US - The pace of US beef and pork exports increased sharply in March, driven by double-digit increases to leading markets Mexico, the China/Hong Kong region and South Korea, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
US pork exports reached their highest monthly total since October 2012: 209,704 metric tons (mt) valued at $606.7 million, increasing 29 per cent in both volume and value over March 2013.
Exports of US beef rose 12 per cent in volume to 93,380 mt valued at $516.2 million, an increase of 17 per cent.
When measured in proportion to overall US beef and pork production, March exports also showed gains. Total pork exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) equated to 31.5 per cent of total US pork production in March (26 per cent of muscle cuts alone) versus 28 and 23.5 per cent, respectively, a year ago. Beef exports accounted for 14 per cent of total production and 11 per cent of muscle cuts – up from 12 and 9 per cent in 2013.
The export value per head slaughtered set a new record of $69.93 for pork in March, topping the $60 per head mark for the first time and up from $50.38 last year. The export value per head of fed slaughter for beef was $271.57, up from $222.20 a year ago.
"Even with high prices and supply concerns, we are working to keep the visibility of US beef and pork high in our key export markets, and they continue to respond positively," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "Among the many encouraging signs are the continued strength of the Mexican market in both pork and beef, and the rebound of South Korea, which has been an area of focus for USMEF as that market has been challenged over the past year by an over-supply of domestic product."
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has been a factor both in the United States and in a number of export markets, creating supply concerns going into the summer. But exports remained strong in March to virtually all key markets, despite a 4 per cent decline in US pork production for the month. Thus, the export increase likely reflects the fact that some product was shipped out of cold storage from previous months’ production.
- Mexico: up 38 per cent in volume (54,284 mt) and 75 per cent in value ($121 million).
- Japan: up 22 per cent in volume (45,358 mt) and 8 per cent in value ($175.3 million). This was the largest monthly sales volume to Japan since May 2011, driven by growth in chilled and ground seasoned pork exports.
- Hong Kong/China: up 49 per cent in volume (41,295 mt) and 59 per cent in value ($93.6 million) – the largest monthly total since February 2013, reflecting growth in muscle cut sales.
- South Korea: up 73 per cent in volume (16,104 mt) and 83 per cent in value ($46.4 million) – the biggest export month since March 2012.
- ASEAN: up 90 per cent in volume (9,703 mt) and 93 per cent in value ($25.4 million).
- Central/South America: up 29 per cent in volume (10,985 mt) and 32 per cent in value ($28.5 million), driven by record exports to Colombia (5,049 mt, up 193 per cent; valued at $12.6 million, up 177 per cent).
US beef production dipped 5 per cent in March and 5 per cent for the first quarter compared to year-ago levels, but exports remained positive, helping to set a new record for the Choice beef cutout value in mid-March at $2.42 per pound.
- Mexico: up 82 per cent in volume (19,495 mt) and 94 per cent in value ($90.1 million).
- Japan: down 10 per cent in volume (16,649 mt) and 6 per cent in value ($107.5 million) compared to year-ago levels as sales to Japan surged in March 2013 upon the announcement of expanded market access. US beef exports to Japan for the first quarter remain up 21 per cent in volume (46,681 mt) and 16 per cent in value ($292.1 million).
- Hong Kong: up 88 per cent in volume (12,224 mt) and 112 per cent in value ($80.6 million) – continuing the upward trend since access for US beef was expanded in February 2013.
- South Korea: up 10 per cent in volume (9,601 mt) and 37 per cent in value ($65.8 million), despite being a primary target for Australia’s drought-related surge in beef production and exports.
- Central/South America: up 4 per cent in volume (2,864 mt) and 16 per cent in value ($13 million), driven by larger shipments to Colombia and Guatemala.
US lamb exports dipped across the board in March, reaching 740 mt (down 41 per cent) valued at $1.9 million (down 37 per cent). For the first quarter, lamb exports are down 16 per cent in volume (2,645 mt) and 12 per cent in value ($6.6 million).
TheMeatSite News Desk