US - Pork and beef exports maintained their strong momentum in May, with export volumes for both products exceeding last year’s totals and value increasing by double digits, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
May pork exports totalled 188,030 metric tons (mt), up four per cent from a year ago. Export value remained in the $600 million range for the third consecutive month, increasing 19 per cent to $599.6 million. For January through May, pork export volume (964,631 mt) was nine per cent ahead of last year’s pace, while export value was up 15 per cent to $2.84 billion.
Beef exports in May were up five per cent in volume (102,967mt) and 15 per cent in value ($589 million). For the first five months of 2014, export volume was up nine per cent to 479,344 mt and value increased 17 per cent to $2.64 billion.
Pork results led by record-high value to Mexico
Mexico continued its outstanding performance for US pork in May, posting the largest monthly volume (56,665mt, +8 per cent) since January and an all-time value record of $138.8 million (+45 per cent). For January through May, exports were up 14 per cent in volume (277,905mt) and 39 per cent in value ($614 million).
USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said: “USMEF has been focused for some time on increasing overall pork consumption in Mexico, and it is gratifying to see those efforts paying off in the form of very strong, sustained demand. With Mexico experiencing a domestic supply crunch and its hog prices up about 35 per cent year-over-year, we have substantially increased shipments to Mexico even as US pork prices moved higher.”
May results for other key markets
Exports to South Korea (11,885mt, +37 per cent) continued well ahead of last year’s pace, as high domestic pork prices helped fuel imports. May export value was up nearly 75 per cent to $40.7 million. The five-month total for Korea was 32 per cent higher in volume (69,154mt) and increased 46 per cent in value ($208 million).
Pork muscle cut exports to Japan (37,880mt) were up seven per cent in May, pushing the January-May total to 140,523mt (+1 per cent), valued at $624 million. Japan’s hog prices have also surged - up 17 per cent from a year ago - reflecting the impact of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) and higher-priced imports.
While still down from a year ago, export volume to Canada (18,031mt, -6 per cent) was the largest of 2014. Value increased seven per cent to $73.7 million.
Exports to Colombia remained very strong, increasing 28 per cent in volume (3,748mt) and 59 per cent in value ($11.9 million). For the first five months of the year, shipments to Colombia have more than doubled in both volume (22,215mt, +107 per cent) and value ($59.3 million, +114 per cent).
China’s slumping hog prices and ample domestic supplies led to a weak month for US exports to the China/Hong Kong region, as volume dropped 28 per cent to 24,999mt and value slipped 30 per cent to $52.6 million.However, January-May volume (165,926 mt) was still within two per cent of last year’s pace and value was up two per cent to $369 million.
Pork export value per head slaughtered was a near-record $69.57 in May, nearly $15 higher than a year ago. The percentage of US production exported was 24 per cent for muscle cuts and 28 per cent when including muscle cuts and variety meat – up from 23 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively, in May 2013.
Beef exports largest of the year to Hong Kong, Mexico
In mid-June, US beef gained full access to Hong Kong, adding key products such as ground beef and processed meats. But even with some restrictions still in place, May exports to Hong Kong surged more than 80 per cent from a year ago to 13,008 mt. On a value basis, exports more than doubled to $95.2 million.
Mr Seng said: “We’re pleased to finally have full access to Hong Kong, which is something the US beef industry has been pursuing for some timed. But this market has already performed exceptionally well, especially since we gained access for bone-in cuts early last year. That step has helped us achieve outstanding growth in Hong Kong’s food-service sector.”
Other May highlights for beef exports
Exports to Mexico increased 35 per cent to 20,480 mt, the largest monthly total of the year, while value increased 52 per cent to $93.5 million. This pushed the January-May total to 96,281mt (+34 per cent), valued at $452.5 million (+49 per cent).
Strong momentum continued for exports to Korea, which increased 26 per cent in volume (9,269mt) and 48 per cent in value ($58.5 million). Korea’s five-month value total was nearly one-third higher than a year ago ($314.7 million, +32 per cent) as retail outlets and restaurants have shown renewed interest in featuring US beef. Beef muscle cut value ($299.8 million, +41 per cent) accelerated at an even more rapid pace.
Exports to Taiwan continued to bounce back from a slow first quarter, increasing 25 per cent in volume (3,408 mt) and 16 per cent in value ($25.7 million). Demand for chilled US beef remains strong in Taiwan, even as frozen exports face increased competition from Australia (due to large, drought-induced supplies) and New Zealand (which has a new free trade agreement with Taiwan).
Japan’s results slowed from a year ago but this was in comparison to very large totals from May 2013. For the first five months of the year, exports to Japan are fairly steady with last year’s strong pace in both volume (87,269mt, -1 per cent) and value ($547.9 million, +1 per cent).
Beef export value per head of fed slaughter set another new record in May at $279.39, up $47.72 from a year ago. The ratio of US production exported was 11 per cent for muscle cuts and 14 per cent for muscle cuts and variety meat combined – up from 10 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, from a year ago.
Lamb exports still struggling
US lamb exports continued to trend lower in May despite a rebound in leading market Mexico (794mt, +11 per cent; $1.37 million, +15 per cent). The gains in Mexico were more than offset by a continued slump in Canada, where May exports totalled just 33mt. Through the first five months of the year, lamb exports were down 23 per cent in volume (4,475 mt) and 14 per cent in value ($11.26 million).
You can view the full report from USMEF by clicking here.
TheMeatSite News Desk