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US Meat Exports Remain Strong

09 September 2014

US - Export volumes for US beef and pork were lower in July as trade slowed for the first time this year.

However, statistics from the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) show exports for 2014 remain strong.

July beef exports fell 15 per cent in volume to 101,799 metric tons (mt), although this was in comparison to large totals in July 2013. July export value was steady at $621.7 million.

For January through July, beef exports were still 4 per cent higher in volume (687,752 mt) and remained on a record pace in value ($3.89 billion, +13 per cent).

Pork export volume was down 3 per cent in July to 173,270 mt, while value was up 14 per cent to $573.5 million. For January-July, exports established a record pace in both volume (1.32 million mt, +7 percent) and value ($4.0 billion) – marking the first time pork export value has exceeded $4 billion before August.

US Beef Performing Well in Key Asian Markets

January-July beef exports equated to 14 per cent of total production and 11 per cent for muscle cuts only (these ratios were up slightly from a year ago). Export value per head of fed slaughter was $298.56 in July – down slightly from the June record but still up more than $25 year-over-year. For January-July, export value per head was $272.70, up $31.25.

“Demand for US beef in Asian markets has continued to strengthen this year, adding further value to cuts that are popular there and underutilised domestically,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

“With our limited supplies, competition for these cuts among Asian buyers contributes greatly to US cattle prices. USMEF continues to work with our industry partners to educate the trade about alternative cuts and merchandising ideas, so that we can deliver value to our Asian customers even in these times of historically tight supplies.”

January-July Highlights for US Beef Included:

  • Exports to South Korea totaled 65,792 mt (+12 per cent) valued at $445.4 million (+41 per cent) as demand for US beef strengthened across all sectors and US beef gained market share.

  • Despite slumping in July, exports to Hong Kong reached 81,372 mt valued at $564.6 million, up 35 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively.

  • While export volume to Japan was moderately lower, it remained the leading destination for US beef exports in both volume (136,884 mt, -4 per cent) and value ($860.8 million, +1 per cent). Japan has been a difficult market for other suppliers this year, importing less beef from all other main exporters while US beef continued to gain market share.

  • July exports to Taiwan increased 83 per cent in volume (3,310 mt) and nearly doubled in value ($29.4 million, +96 per cent), pushing year-to-date totals to 19,437 mt (+11 per cent) valued at $162.2 million (+16 per cent).

  • Though beef export volume to Mexico slowed modestly in July, export value for the month still reached $94.6 million (+4 per cent). For January through July, exports to Mexico were up 23 per cent in volume (136,200 mt) and 36 per cent in value ($640.5 million). USMEF is concerned, however, about possible export data issues in the first half of 2013, which means that these year-over-year increases for Mexico could be overstated.

Pork Exports Held Strong Through July, Despite Record Prices

January-July pork exports equated to 28 per cent of total production and 23 per cent for muscle cuts only – each up 2 percentage points from a year ago. July export value per head of slaughter was $67.81 – down from its record high in June but still up 23 per cent from a year ago. January-July export value was up 21 per cent to $64.45.

Seng noted that pork exports’ record pace in both volume and value so far this year was achieved despite record-high US prices and intense competition in many key markets. High prices for domestic pork in most regions – other than Europe and China – also helped stimulate global demand for US pork.

“Pork exports have overcome some severe price disadvantages this year, especially in Asian markets where we compete head-to-head with European pork,” he explained. “US prices began to moderate in August, so these price gaps have now been narrowed or eliminated. Going forward, this should relieve some of the price pressure on US exporters.”

Mainstay markets Japan, Mexico and South Korea, along with emerging markets such as Colombia, helped offset lower exports to China/Hong Kong. January-July highlights included:

  • Exports to Mexico remained well ahead of last year’s record pace, increasing 12 per cent in volume (388,157 mt) and 38 percent in value ($887.1 million).

  • Despite a large increase in Japanese imports of European pork, US exports performed well in leading value market Japan. Pork muscle cut exports to Japan reached 245,497 mt (+2 percent) valued at $1.13 billion (+5 per cent).

  • A similar situation unfolded in Korea, where despite aggressive competition from the EU, total US pork exports increased 31 per cent in volume (83,149 mt) and 49 per cent in value ($257.5 million).

  • Colombia is now the pacesetter for US pork in the Central and South America region, with exports up 72 per cent in volume (29,181 mt) and 88 per cent in value ($80.8 million).

While Russia did not reopen to US pork until early March, and then only to pork from two US slaughter plants, exports through July still reached 32,163 mt valued at $116.7 million. In July alone, exports were 12,910 mt valued at $49.4 million. Exports to Russia were suspended on 7 August due to Russia’s import ban on many agricultural products from the United States, Canada, the EU, Norway and Australia.

Lamb Exports Rebound in July, but Still Lower Year-Over-Year

July lamb exports increased 3 per cent in volume to 942 mt and hit their highest monthly value of the year at just under $3 million. For January through July, exports were still down 22 per cent in volume (6,403 mt) and 5 percent in value ($16.8 million).

Demand in the Caribbean has shown a recent rebound, with exports through July reaching 420 mt (+27 per cent) valued at $2.9 million (+20 per cent). Exports were also higher to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Panama, partially offsetting lower totals for Canada.

Complete export totals for US pork, beef and lamb are on the USMEF statistics webpage.

Please contact Joe Schuele at or 303-226-7309 with any questions.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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