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July Pork Exports Trend Lower, Beef Exports Largest of 2012

12 September 2012, at 8:46am

US - US pork exports in July were slightly lower than a year ago while beef exports dipped moderately in volume, achieving their largest monthly total of 2012 while holding steady in value. These results are based on statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“With higher operating costs, both the pork and beef sectors are facing serious economic challenges,“ said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

“Tight beef supplies have pushed prices higher and strong demand from our international customers is helping support higher beef cutout values. On the pork side, an increase in US production has been offset by larger exports, helping drive the pork cutout to its peak in late June. With these factors in mind, it is absolutely critical that we remain aggressive with our international promotions and continue to capture the highest return possible on the products we export. Our pork and beef export value totals continue to outpace last year’s records, which is certainly a positive sign.“

July pork exports totaled 164,720 metric tons (mt), down nearly 3 per cent from a year ago and the smallest volume since October 2010. Pork export value was also down less than 3 per cent to $467.4 million. Despite these lower results, year-to-date exports through July remained very strong – 4 percent above last year’s record pace in volume (1.3 million mt) and 11 percent higher in value ($3.63 billion).

Pork export value per head slaughtered in July was $56.04, down from $58.84 a year ago. But for January through July, export value per head was about 8 per cent higher than last year at $57.56. Exports equated to 23 per cent of July production for muscle cuts and 26.5 percent when including variety meat. For January through July, these ratios were 24 per cent and 27.5 per cent, respectively.

While July beef export volume (108,971 mt) was 9.5 per cent lower than a year ago, it was the largest monthly volume of 2012 and up 16 per cent from June. Export value in July ($513.5 million) was slightly higher than a year ago and up 11 per cent from June. Year-to-date exports through July remained 11 per cent below the record pace of 2011 in volume (659,433 mt) but increased 4 per cent in value to $3.17 billion.

July beef exports equated to 11 per cent of production for muscle cuts and 14.3 per cent when including variety meat. The respective ratios for January through July were 9.8 per cent and 12.8 per cent. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter totaled $235.18 in July – down less than 1 per cent from the record set in July 2011. For January through July, per-head export value averaged $212.73 – topping last year’s pace by 7 per cent.

Pork export market highlights

Mexico (340,091 mt, +13 per cent), China/Hong (252,187 mt, +20 per cent), Canada (129,730 mt, +14 per cent) and Russia (58,572 mt, +43 per cent) continued to drive pork export volume through the first seven months of 2012. Among these key markets, only China/Hong Kong recorded a lower year-over-year volume in July. January-July export value was also substantially higher in each of these markets: Mexico ($625.7 million, +12 percent), China/Hong ($508.9 million, +55 per cent), Canada ($473.5 million, +19 per cent) and Russia ($168.4 million, +38 per cent).

Export volume for Japan was 6 per cent lower in July and down 7 per cent for the year, but Japan is still 6 per cent ahead of last year’s record value pace ($1.17 billion). After slipping in June, export value to Japan rebounded to $157.2 million in July – roughly equal to a year ago.

Year-over year exports to South Korea continued to be down about one-third in volume through July (91,640 mt) and about one-fourth lower in value ($261.6 million). However, this is due to the surge in exports in 2011 resulting from a major shortage of domestic pork. This year’s exports to Korea were still up 64 per cent in volume and 120 per cent in value when compared to January-July 2010.

Beef export market highlights

Several key beef exports markets posted increases in value for January through July despite lower volumes, including: Canada (-12 in volume to 97,326 mt, +7 per cent in value to $639.3 million), the Middle East (-5 per cent to 91,348 mt, +8 per cent to $201.5 million), Japan (-3 per cent to 91,132 mt, +19 percent to $600.2 million) and the ASEAN region (-6 per cent to 38,502 mt, +14 per cent to $160 million).

Markets posting increases in both volume and value included Russia (+7 per cent to 44,461 mt and +38 per cent to $184.7 million) and Central and South America (+35 per cent to 20,458 mt and +79 per cent to $76.1 million). Exports to Hong Kong were steady in volume at 29,776 mt and up 22 per cent in value at $161.7 million.

A weak peso continued to create a tough business climate for US beef in Mexico, which remained the largest volume destination (122,056 mt) but slipped to third in value (behind Canada and Japan) at $518.3 million. A weak economy and large domestic supplies hurt exports to Korea, which were 22 per cent lower in volume (76,559 mt) through July and down 18 per cent in value ($353.6 million). Exports to Taiwan have been hit hard by regulatory restrictions – down 65 per cent in volume (6,755 mt) and 58 per cent in value ($43.4 million). However, Taiwan’s recent establishment of a maximum residue level for ractopamine is expected to create a more favorable business climate for the remainder of this year.

Lamb exports continue to struggle

US lamb exports continued to battle a tough economic environment through July, with year-over-year exports falling by 36 per cent in volume (7,299 metric tons) and 21 per cent in value ($14.7 million).

Export volume was down across the globe, though increases in value were achieved in Canada ($2.5 million, +24 per cent) and Panama ($128,000, +103 per cent). USMEF continues to work with US trade officials on regaining access for US lamb in critical destinations such as Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Korea and the European Union.