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CME: Pork Exports Drifted Lower in June

by 5m Editor
13 August 2009, at 1:54pm

US - Export numbers for June are in and they show significant year over year declines in the case of pork, moderately lower exports in the case of chicken and only a slight increase in the case of beef, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Please note that the numbers referenced below and in the attached charts reflect shipped weight and are reported in metric ton. ERS usually follows up with another release that converts shipped weight product into carcass weight equivalent, which is useful when trying to compare to other series expressed on a carcass weight basis.

As the charts below show, pork exports continued to drift lower in June and compared to a year ago total pork exports were 102,541 MT, down 33.4 per cent and the smallest monthly export volume since December 2007. The value of US pork exports declined by a similar amount. US pork exports in June were valued at $266.1 million, $125 million or 32 per cent lower than a year ago. The graphic illustrates the primary reason for the year over year decline in US pork exports. Shipments to China/Hong Kong, which provided much of the impetus for growth last year, have declined sharply and they are now approaching the levels we saw back in 2006 and 2007.

For all the talk of a growing middle class, and thus growing appetite for meat protein in China, one tends to forget that China has the largest sow herd in the world, spread across many small farms. As such, Chinese producers have the ability to expand production quite rapidly, as demonstrated so far in 2009 following two years of disease induced output reductions. But the decline in exports to China is not the only reason why June pork shipments were lower than a year ago. Exports to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia and a number of smaller markets also were lower than a year ago. Pork exports to Japan were down 5,637 MT, 16.2 per cent lower than year ago. The only positive number in the June pork export data were shipments to Mexico, which continued to show decent growth. At 24,671 MT, pork exports to Mexico were up 22.7 per cent compared to a year ago and almost 34 per cent higher than the five year average.