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US Red Meat Exports Continue Positive Trend

16 November 2010

US - The global appetite for US beef and pork continued to grow in September, with American red meat exports maintaining solid momentum through the first nine months of 2010, according to the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports continued their torrid pace in September with a 30.2 per cent jump in value over year-ago levels while volume climbed 16.6 per cent. For the month, the US exported 86,182 metric tons of beef valued at $339.3 million. For the year, beef exports are up 16 per cent in volume and 27 per cent in value to 766,791 metric tons valued at $2.9 billion.

The pork export story also is positive. For September, the value of pork exports climbed 10 per cent over 2009 totals to $382.6 million even though the volume of exports slipped 3.6 per cent to 148,416 metric tons. Over the first nine months of the year, export volume is up 2 per cent to 1,392,754 metric tons valued at $3.5 billion - a 9 per cent hike in value over 2009.

"We are finding a very positive and receptive audience for US red meat in the international market," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "The challenge is to sustain this aggressive growth pace and continue to diversify our markets.

"To that end, USMEF has been working closely with the exporting community to identify new opportunities in the global marketplace - whether it be new niches within existing markets or entirely new regions - to ensure that exports continue to grow and producers continue to see a healthy return," Mr Seng added.

The impact of exports

The value of beef exports in September equated to $151 per head of steer and heifer slaughtered and accounted for 11 per cent of total US production. This compares to $118.17 per head in September of 2009 when exports were 9.5 per cent of total production. For the first nine months of 2010, the value of exports per head is $145.07 per head, which is $8.60 more than values in 2003, prior to the discovery of BSE in the United States.

Pork exports accounted for 22 per cent of production and $41.33 per head value in September compared to 21 per cent and $35.30 last year. Year-to-date, pork exports account for 23.7 per cent of production and $43.62 per head value, which is ahead of the $42.30 per head total set in the record export year of 2008.

Beef surge continues

Virtually every major US beef export market is showing double-digit growth this year, and September continued that trend. Only Mexico, which continues to struggle with economic woes and a weak peso, is behind 2009 levels.

For the year, the top five beef export markets in terms of value remain Mexico, Canada, Japan, the ASEAN region and South Korea. During September, the top five markets were Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East - the latter led by Egypt.

Beef exports to Canada in September jumped 8.4 per cent in value to $65.6 million, slightly surpassing exports to Mexico that were valued at $63.4 million, a 14.2 per cent decline from last year. Japan was third with beef exports valued at $58.9 million, a 52 per cent spike.

The trend in South Korea is even more promising with September exports up a startling 250 per cent to $38.4 million while the Middle East showed a 93 per cent hike for the month, registering at $22.5 million.

"We're continuing to see steady progress in Korea, and we're working hard to sustain that as we prepare to launch phase two of USMEF's 'Trust' imaging campaign that has been very well-received," said Mr Seng.

While exports to the ASEAN region are down 16.6 per cent in value from year-ago levels, they are up sharply from August, showing positive momentum. September exports to Russia were up 91.5 per cent in value over 2009 levels. Muscle cut exports to Russia for the year are up 652 per cent to 21,102 metric tons, already setting an annual record and essentially filling the 21,700 metric ton tariff rate quota.

Exports to Taiwan also set an annual value record of $149.5 million, already shattering last year's mark of $141.1 million. For the year, exports to Taiwan are up 42 per cent in volume (27,625 metric tons) and 52 per cent in value.

Through September, the United States has also increased its net exporter status, with net export value of $577.6 million for the first nine months of the year, up from $80 million in the same period last year.

Positive trend for pork exports

The value of US pork exports continues its positive trend in September, rising 4 per cent over August and 10 per cent from year-ago levels to $382.6 million.

The top five value markets for US pork exports in September were Japan ($126.2 million, a 15 per cent jump over 2009), Mexico ($73.6 million, up 21 per cent), Canada ($53.1 million, up 2.6 per cent), the Hong Kong/China region ($44.3 million, up 32.2 per cent) and Russia ($28.2 million, down 19.3 per cent).

Canada's pork exports to Mexico have been rising steadily since June, but have spiked in timing with Mexico's application of a 5 per cent duty on US pork in August as part of a trucking dispute between the US and Mexico. Canada's pork exports to Mexico reached record heights in September, exceeding 6,000 metric tons - more than triple the total from one year ago.

September pork exports from the US to China totaled 20,375 metric tons, the largest volume since June 2008 when China imported unprecedented volumes of pork driven by domestic shortages, high prices and preparation for the Olympics. Rising hog and pork prices in China should continue to support strong demand for US pork.

"We are working closely with our international directors and pork exporters to target growth opportunities for pork," Mr Seng said. "Market access issues in key markets like China and Russia have affected export totals for the year, but the highlight I see in September is a higher value return on smaller amounts of exports. Increasing the value of our exports is certainly a top priority."

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