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CME: Meat Exports on Track for a Record Year

by 5m Editor
16 November 2011, at 5:45am

US - US meat exports are on track for a record breaking year in 2011. Beef, pork, chicken and turkey exports for September were a combined 1.372 billion pounds, 203 million pounds or 17.4 per cent higher than a year ago, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

A large portion of the growth in protein exports came from strong pork exports, particularly to China.

Beef shipments also registered double digit growth while broiler exports held near July and August levels. Below are some of the highlights from the latest export data:

Beef: Total beef shipments in September amounted to 235.2 million pounds, 50 million pounds or 27.1 per cent higher than a year ago.

The chart to the right shows the evolution in US beef exports to various markets. Prior to the BSE outbreak, US beef exports to S. Korea and Japan accounted for about 60 per cent of overall US beef sales. Mexico and Canada accounted for another 30- 35 per cent. Other markets were an afterthought.

Today, shipments to markets other than the top four account for about a third of US beef exports. This is important when considering the impact of the FTA with Korea or Japan relaxing its stringent 21month or younger rule.

Beef exports to Japan in September were 37.2 million pounds, 16.5 per cent higher than a year ago while exports to S. Shipments to markets other than the top four, markets such as Russia, Viet Nam, etc, accounted for about 41 per cent of all US beef exports in September.

Shipments to these markets rose 52 per cent compared to a year ago and accounted for more than 60 per cent of the growth in exports.

Pork: US pork exports in September were 441.7 million pounds, 120.3 million pounds or 37.4 per cent higher than a year ago, the second highest monthly volume on record.

While the rise in Chinese purchases has been critical to sustain pork export growth, other markets have also contributed to the overall rise in pork export volume (see chart).

US September pork exports to China and Hong Kong were 95.7 million pounds, 60 million pounds or 166 per cent higher than a year ago. Export growth in this market accounted for about half of the increase in overall US pork exports for the month.

Shipments to Japan, which remains the top market for US pork, were 120.9 million pounds, 30 million pounds or 33 per cent higher than a year ago.

Pork exports to Mexico were 80.6 million pounds, 13 per cent higher than a year ago while shipments to Canada, at 50.4 million pounds, were up 36 per cent compared to last year.

While the rise in exports to China has received much of the attention, US pork exports growth is broad based. In the long term this is positive for US pork producers should any one market slow down or decline.

For US consumers and buyers, however, this implies current high prices are not a fluke but a sign of an new (higher) pricing environment.