US - The export value for both US beef and pork reached new heights in 2014, posting double-digit gains over the previous year’s totals, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Lamb exports struggled at the end of the year.
Beef export value was $7.13 billion – an increase of 16 per cent (and nearly $1 billion) over the previous record set in 2013. Export volume was just under 1.2 million metric tons (mt) – which was short of the 2011 record but up two per cent year-over-year.
Pork export value totalled $6.67 billion, an increase of 10 per cent year-over-year, breaking the 2012 record by six per cent. Pork export volume increased two per cent to 2.18 million mt. The volume record is 2.62 million mt, set in 2012.
Exports overcame significant challenges to reach these milestones, including market access restrictions in Russia and China, an appreciating US dollar and, most recently, shipping difficulties related to a labour dispute in the West Coast ports.
In December, beef export volume slipped two per cent year-over-year to 100,270mt, though value still increased 17 per cent to $643.2 million. December pork export volume was down five per cent to 183,498mt but value still achieved a slight increase to $541.3 million.
USMEF President and CEO, Philip Seng, (pictured) said: “2014 was an outstanding year for red meat exports but headwinds continued to mount late in the year.
“The West Coast port congestion is extremely troubling, because the delays faced by exporters in December have become even more severe in 2015. If this dispute is not resolved soon, the meat industry will have to win back long-term customers who still want our product but have no choice but to seek alternative suppliers.”
The situation is especially critical because Asian markets take a large volume of chilled US beef and pork, valued at more than $2 billion in 2014.
The strength in international demand for US red meat was showcased in 2014, as customers paid record prices for US beef and pork while still purchasing larger volumes. This is especially noteworthy because US pork prices were higher than EU prices for most of the year, and US cattle prices were significantly higher than prices in Australia and all other major beef-exporting countries.
Exports continue to generate strong returns for producers, as beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged a record $297.68 in 2014, up $52.72 from the previous year. December export value was $340.69 per head, up $61.53 from a year ago. Pork export value per head slaughtered also set a record of $62.45 in 2014 (up $8.50 from a year ago), despite slipping slightly in December ($54.94, down $0.33).
Mr Seng added: “These exceptional results illustrate the strength of the international markets. In the past five years, per-head export value has more than doubled for beef producers and has increased more than 60 per cent for pork.”
Beef exports in 2014 equated to 14 per cent of total production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 11 per cent of muscle cuts alone, up from 13 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, a year ago. Pork exports equated to 26.5 per cent of total pork production and 22 per cent of muscle cuts alone, up slightly from 2013.
Asian Markets Propel Beef Export Results
US beef performed exceptionally well in key Asian markets in 2014.
Exports to Japan increased three per cent in volume (241,129mt) and 14 per cent in value ($1.58 billion). Value eclipsed the 2003 (pre-BSE) mark ($1.39 billion) for the first time, though volume was still below the 2003 total.
Hong Kong set new annual records as export volume increased 19 per cent to 154,520mt and value surged 40 per cent to $1.15 billion.
Exports to South Korea set a new annual value record of $847.4 million, up 39 per cent. Volume increased 12 per cent to 117,567mt.
Taiwan also set a new annual value record of $293.6 million (up 15 per cent), while volume increased five per cent to 33,804mt.
In Mexico, exports increased 12 per cent in volume to 242,566mt and 26 per cent in value to $1.17 billion. As USMEF has previously noted, however, issues with the 2013 data suggest these year-over-year increases may be overstated.
Mexico, Korea, Colombia Drive Pork Export Success
Russia’s ban on EU pork (which has now lasted more than a full year) and its August suspension of pork imports from the US and Canada had a significant impact on the global pork market in 2014. However, US pork exports held relatively strong, buoyed by leading volume market Mexico. Exports to Mexico set volume and value records for the third consecutive year, reaching 680,843mt (up nine per cent) valued at $1.56 billion (up 27 per cent).
Other highlights include exports to South Korea, which soared 36 per cent in volume to 135,396mt and 61 per cent in value to $444.6 million.
In Colombia, exports have more than doubled since 2012 and set new volume and value records in five consecutive years. In 2014, exports increased 39 per cent in volume to 47,441mt and 52 per cent in value to $134.11 million.
Although pork exports to Canada were lower in volume (207,362mt; nine per cent), export value set a new record of $904.7 million (up seven per cent).
Lamb Exports Struggle Late in 2014
US lamb exports were sluggish for the second consecutive month in December and finished the year down 16 per cent in volume (10,407mt) and three per cent in value ($27.33 million).
Exports increased to top markets Mexico (8,733mt, up one per cent; $14.8 million, up four per cent) and the Caribbean (628mt, up 14 per cent; $4.5 million, up eight per cent).
Gains were also posted in emerging markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Panama and the Philippines.
TheMeatSite News Desk