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Pork Exports Maintain Hot Pace

by 5m Editor
14 March 2012, at 8:39am

US - US red meat exports have a tough act to follow after a record-setting year in 2011, but the early indications for 2012 are good.

January pork exports jumped 28 per cent in volume and 43 per cent in value while beef exports were even in volume but rose 14 per cent in value, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“There is a challenge to follow a very successful year like 2011 and sustain the momentum,“ said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The good news is that there are opportunities to expand the presence of US red meat by exploring new market niches as well as increasing access with several key trading partners.“

Several key measurements also showed continued growth: export value per head and per centage of total production exported. For pork, January’s export value equated to $59.44 per head of commercial slaughter compared to $43.59 a year ago, and 29.6 per cent of total production (including variety meat) was exported in January versus 24.2 per cent last year. For just muscle cuts, 25 per cent of production was exported this January compared to 20 per cent last year.

Beef exports equated to $197.95 per head of fed slaughter in value compared to $170.10 last year. The per centage of production exported – 12.3 per cent for beef and variety meats and 9 per cent for just muscle cuts – remained the same.

Pork exports up to key targets

Sales jumped in double or triple figures with the top key pork trading partners, surging 21 per cent and 27 per cent respectively in volume and value to Mexico; 88 per cent and 158 per cent to China; and 17 per cent and 28 per cent to Japan.

For the month, the US exported 211,457 metric tons of pork valued at $566.9 million, increases of 28 per cent in volume and 43 per cent in value. While it’s early in the year, it is encouraging that these increases are coming on the heels of a year that saw 2011 pork exports top 2.25 million metric tons valued at more than $6.1 billion.

“In some markets, such as Japan, we are reaching into new secondary markets and niches like the sozai (deli) segment,“ said Mr Seng. “In others, like South Korea, we’re focused on sustaining the progress we made last year and preparing for the imminent implementation of the Korea-US FTA. Korea has made significant progress in rebuilding their hog inventories so we expect total imports to decrease this year but the US will also gain a competitive edge against other suppliers through the FTA.“

Top pork export markets in January were:

  • Mexico: 60,737 metric tons (up 21 per cent) valued at $110.3 million (up 27 per cent)
  • Japan: 41,697 metric tons (up 17 per cent) valued at $170.8 million (up 28 per cent)
  • China: 36,175 metric tons (up 88 per cent) valued at $75.1 million (up 158 per cent)
  • Canada: 19,167 metric tons (up 47 per cent) valued at $65.7 million (up 52 per cent)
  • South Korea: 18,173 metric tons (up 38 per cent) valued at $51.5 million (up 61 per cent)