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China, Mexico Help Drive Torrid Red Meat Export Pace

by 5m Editor
11 November 2011, at 8:47am

US - Led by a record-breaking month for pork exports to China and the continued rebound of beef exports to Mexico, 2011 remains on pace to set new annual records for the value of beef, pork and lamb exports, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

September results show pork exports up 23.6 per cent in volume and 40.5 per cent in value from last year while beef exports rose 27.3 per cent in volume and 35.9 per cent in value. Not to be left out, US lamb exports soared 113 per cent in volume over September of 2010 while the value of those exports jumped 83.9 per cent.

"This year has presented opportunities for the US red meat industry to expand exports, and the industry has worked aggressively to capitalize on those opportunities," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "The premiums that international buyers pay for US beef, pork and lamb are critical to the bottom line of US producers."

On the pork side of the industry, September exports equated to 26 per cent of total US pork and pork variety meat production and those exports were valued at $56 per head – solid increases from September 2010 totals of 22 per cent of production and $40.87 per head.

For beef, September exports accounted for 14.4 per cent of total beef and beef variety meat production and $212.64 in value per head of fed cattle, up from 11 per cent of production and $151 in value per head last year.

Like their beef and lamb counterparts, pork exports remain on a record-setting pace and, like beef, are on track to eclipse $5 billion in value for the year for the first time on record. For the month, the US exported 183,495 metric tons of pork valued at $537.6 million, which trails only March of 2011 as the second-highest monthly export value on record.

For the year, the US has exported more than 1.6 million metric tons of pork valued at nearly $4.4 billion, increases of 16 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, over the first nine months of 2010.

Pork exports were led by China/Hong Kong, which bought 47,180 metric tons of product, up 64 per cent from last year. The 39,020 metric tons purchased by China was a new monthly record, up 92 per cent from last year. The value of the exports to China/Hong Kong was $101.7 million, a 129 per cent jump from last year.

Japan remains the leader in value of US pork exports. September’s totals were 38,689 metric tons valued at $166.2 million, increases of 23 per cent in volume and 32 per cent in value over last year.

Mexico continues to be the volume leader in pork, importing 41,666 metric tons (7 per cent increase) valued at $87 million (18 per cent increase).

Pork exports to South Korea grew 82.3 per cent in volume and 153.6 per cent in value versus year-ago levels, although the pace has slowed somewhat from earlier in the year.

Japan and South Korea are two of the markets that USMEF has aggressively targeted in a campaign to raise the visibility of the US pork butt, a cut identified by US exporters as one that has been undervalued.

"We are seeing a very positive response in Japan and Korea, as well as the Caribbean, China, Singapore and some other markets where we’ve worked with the food service and retail sectors to help educate them on the taste and value of the pork butt," said Mr Seng. "Since the pork butt is one of the top two or three cuts we export to these markets, raising the value of those exports is important for returning higher values to producers."

Canada was another positive market for US pork in September, reaching record-large volumes (20,034 metric tons) valued at $75.6 million, increases of 31 per cent in volume and 42.3 per cent in value.