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October Pork Exports Set Record; Beef Strong

14 December 2012

US - US pork exports set new monthly records in October, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), reaching 218,132 metric tons (mt) valued at $607 million.

Export volume was 9 per cent above last year and broke the previous monthly record of 217,080 mt set in November 2011. Export value exceeded $600 million for the first time, breaking the previous high ($597.85 million, also from November 2011) by 1.5 per cent.

For January through October, US pork exports were 3 per cent ahead of last year’s record pace in volume (1.875 million mt) and 6 per cent higher in value ($5.24 billion).

Beef exports also posted solid results in October, with export value ($496 million) increasing 10 per cent over last year despite a 4 per cent decline in volume (101,447 mt). This was consistent with this year’s January-October pattern, which has seen an 11 per cent decline in volume (951,886 mt) compared to 2011 while export value ($4.6 billion) remained 2 per cent ahead of last year’s record pace.

“With pork production at a very high level, the US industry is relying on a strong performance from the international markets,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “We not only achieved that, but also maintained an excellent per-head return for producers.”

Mr Seng added that in the beef complex, volume continues to struggle compared to last year but export value is very strong.

“Considering the economic headwinds we face in several markets, beef export value is holding up extremely well – especially on a per-head basis,” he said. “For livestock producers who are facing some very tough obstacles, the export markets are truly a source of optimism.”

Outstanding month for pork in nearly every major market

October pork exports accounted for 23 per cent of muscle cut production and 27.4 per cent when including variety meat. For January-October, these ratios were 23.6 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively. This was slightly higher than last year for muscle cuts (22.9 per cent) and steady with last year’s per centage of total production exported. On a per-head-of-slaughter basis, October exports equated to $55.95 (compared to $57.93 in October 2011). For January through October, the per-head average increased 3.5 per cent from a year ago to $56.14.

Several major pork export markets posted their best performances of the year in October, while others recorded their highest totals in several months. These included:

  • Mexico, with its best month since January 2012, took 56,282 mt valued at $108.5 million. This pushed the January-October totals to 499,724 mt (+16 per cent from the same period last year) valued at $928.5 million (+12 per cent).


  • Exports to Japan were the largest since March 2011, totaling 45,084 mt valued at $188.1 million. The January-October volume total was down 5 per cent to 389,446 mt, but value was 4 per cent ahead of last year’s record pace at $1.68 billion.


  • Russia posted its largest total since May 2010, with 13,278 mt valued at $38.9 million. This pushed the January-October results to 86,566 mt (+30 per cent) valued at $247.6 million (+20 per cent).


  • Exports to South Korea, below the record-setting totals of 2011 for most of this year, rebounded in October to 14,050 mt valued at just over $37 million – the best performance since March 2012. January-October totals remained well below last year (119,786 mt, -26 per cent valued at $340 million, -19 per cent), but these results still exceed corresponding 2010 levels by 73 per cent. Korea’s domestic pork production was severely impacted by foot-and-mouth disease in 2011, boosting demand for imported pork. Production rebounded strongly in 2012, so a year-over-year decline in US exports was anticipated.

Strong October totals were also recorded in Canada, Oceania, Central and South America and the ASEAN region. Export volume to China/Hong Kong was down 36 per cent from last year’s record total, but posted the best performance since April 2012. Through October, exports to this region were still up 10 per cent in value at $716.89 million, but volume was 3 per cent behind last year at 352,125 mt.

“Pork exports to China/Hong Kong are not expected to match last year’s fourth quarter surge,” Seng said. “But that makes the global results in October all the more impressive, illustrating the diversity of our export destinations.”

Canada, Japan stand out for October beef exports

October beef exports accounted for 10 per cent of beef muscle cut production and 12.6 per cent when including variety meat. This compared to 11 per cent and 13.9 per cent, respectively, in October 2011. For January-October, exports accounted for 9.8 per cent of muscle cut production and 12.7 per cent including variety meat – down from 11 per cent and 14.2 per cent during the same period last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter was 6 per cent higher than a year ago, both in October ($222.03) and for January-October ($214.51).

Individual market highlights for US beef included:

  • Exports to Canada were the largest since August 2011, totaling 19,129 mt (+35 per cent from a year ago) valued at $123.2 million (+66 per cent). This pushed the January-October totals to 144,754 mt (-9 per cent) valued at $952.8 million (+11 per cent).


  • Japan continued its strong recent performance with October exports of 12,829 mt valued at $91.8 million. This was up only slightly from last year’s volume but 25 per cent higher in value. For January-October, export volume was steady at 134,036 mt while export value surged 24 per cent to $898 million.


  • Exports to Russia were record-large in October, totaling 11,702 (+70 per cent) valued at $41.5 million (+55 per cent). For January-October, exports to Russia climbed 15 per cent in volume (73,625 mt) and 28 per cent in value ($283.7 million).


  • October exports to Central and South America were up just 1.5 per cent in volume (2,211 mt) but increased 15 per cent in value ($10.1 million). For January-October, exports to the region totaled 28,397 mt (+33 per cent) valued at $109.3 million (+65 per cent). Chile – the leading value market in the region for US beef – recently announced resumption of beef imports from Paraguay, which has been out of the market for about one year due to foot-and-mouth disease. However, other strong growth markets for US beef in the region include Peru, Guatemala, Panama and Honduras.


  • Exports to Taiwan, which have been on the rebound since the recent adoption of a maximum residue level (MRL) for ractopamine, posted the best monthly performance since December 2011 at 3,759 mt (+25 per cent) valued at $23.4 million (+34 per cent). January-October totals remained far below last year, but the strong October results suggest a promising finish to 2012.

Exports to leading volume market Mexico continued to struggle as high prices have negatively impacted Mexico’s total beef consumption. Exports to Korea have also been well below last year’s pace, primarily due to record-high domestic beef production. This has impacted demand for beef imports not only from the United States, but also from other suppliers such as Australia and New Zealand.

October lamb exports slip in volume but increase in value

Lamb exports in October were down 9 per cent in volume from a year ago to 1,346 mt, but still achieved a 4.5 per cent increase in value to $2.44 million. For January through October, exports were down 28 per cent in volume (11,396 mt) and 15 per cent in value ($22.1 million). Volumes were lower to all destinations, but export value increased to Canada ($4 million, +17 per cent) and the Dominican Republic ($443,000, +20 per cent).

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