April pork, beef exports lower than March, but remain strong

News
Jun 17, 2011
by WLJ

U.S. pork and beef exports slowed slightly in April when compared to the all-time record highs of the previous month, but still performed well above last year’s pace. April pork exports reached 181,109 metric tons valued at $487.8 million—up 16 percent in volume and 22 percent in value over last year.

April beef exports totaled 103,213 metric tons valued at $429.7 million—increases of 25 percent and 38 percent, respectively, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (US- MEF).

On a cumulative basis through April 2011, pork exports were 18 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (735,294 metric tons) and 24 percent higher in value ($1.87 billion). Beef exports were up 30 percent in volume (399,748 metric tons) and 48 percent in value ($1.63 billion). Demand for U.S. pork sizzling in north Asian markets Japan remained the leading value market for U.S. pork by a wide margin, with year-to-date exports up 17 percent in both volume (163,775 metric tons) and value ($616.5 million). These increases are particularly impressive considering last year’s full-year export value record to Japan of more than $1.65 billion.

South Korea, which has seen its domestic pork production devastated this year by foot-and-mouth disease, had the sharpest growth in U.S. pork demand for the first four months of 2011, with U.S. exports to Korea up 187 percent in volume (97,357 metric tons) and 245 percent in value ($239.8 million). Exports to the China/ Hong Kong region were also up impressively through April, increasing 38 percent in volume (117,717 metric tons) and 26 percent in value ($170.4 million).

Other pork market highlights for the first four months of 2011 include:

• Exports to Canada were up 8 percent in volume (62,268 metric tons) and 12 percent in value ($212 million).

• The Oceania region (Australia-New Zealand) continued to emerge as a strong growth market for U.S. pork, increasing 29 percent in volume (27,069 metric tons) and 72 percent in value ($85.4 million).

• Led by triple-digit growth in Chile, exports to Central and South America increased 24 percent in volume (25,350 metric tons) and 34 percent in value ($60.9 million).

• Exports to Russia reached 21,508 metric tons valued at $61.4 million. This was more than double the volume and triple the value over the first four months of last year, though this is due in part to limited market access for U.S. pork in early 2010.

Exports to Mexico—the leading volume destination for U.S. pork—remain below last year’s record pace but still reached 173,647 metric tons valued at $321 million. The only market that is down significantly from last year is the ASE- AN region, where exports have declined 40 percent in volume (18,174 metric tons) and 29 percent in value ($40.3 million). This is mainly due to lower totals to the Philippines, where exports reached a record high last year due in part to tight domestic supplies.

Pork exports equated to $56.99 per head in April, breaking the record of 56.52 set the previous month and jumping by more than $12 over April 2010. Exports were equivalent to 28 percent of total U.S. production in April and 27 percent for the year so far—up from about 23.5 percent a year ago.

“With our production cost running so high right now, these strong export numbers could not come at a better time for producers.”

Speaking from the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA, USMEF Chair-elect Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, IN, said U.S. producers have a growing awareness of how important these figures are to their bottom line.

“Pork producers are really excited about our international opportunities,” she said. “When they see a return of almost $57 per head being returned to the farm and nearly 30 percent of our production being exported, they understand and appreciate the value of the international marketplace. I sense a lot of excitement around that issue today.”

U.S. beef export markets booming across the globe

Beef exports to South Korea continued to grow dramatically in the first four months of 2011, increasing more than 150 percent over 2010 to 65,754 metric tons valued at $283.9 million. Korea made a strong push to become the leading value market for U.S. beef, and now trails only Mexico.

Beef demand in Mexico continues to make a solid recovery, with U.S. exports up 7 percent in volume (82,490 metric tons) and 27 percent in value ($313.3 million) over last year. Canada remains in third place in both volume (52,325, up 15 percent) and value ($272.3, up 37 percent). However, fourth-place Japan is closing fast with 44,369 metric tons valued at $245.2 million—up 66 percent in volume and 73 percent in value over last year.

Other market highlights include:

• Despite ongoing social and political unrest, beef demand in the Middle East has not missed a beat— increasing 40 percent in volume (48,239 metric tons) and 61 percent in value ($94.7 million) over last year.

• Export volume to Russia is steady with last year (20,009 metric tons) but value is up 10 percent to $52.2 million.

• Exports to the Caribbean increased 12 percent in volume (9,563 metric tons) and 21 percent in value ($41.1 million), led by strong value growth in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

• Excellent muscle cut growth in Chile, Guatemala and Colombia, along with strong variety meat growth in Peru and Ecuador, pushed exports to Central and South America significantly higher. Exports to the region are up 51 percent in volume (8,157 metric tons) and 85 percent in value ($22.9 million) over last year.

Beef exports equated to $203.70 per head of fed slaughter in April, up nearly $63 (or 45 percent) from April 2010. For the year, exports equate to $190.80 per head. April exports equaled 14.5 percent of total U.S. production compared to 11.2 percent last year. For the year, the U.S. beef industry has exported 13.7 percent of total production.

“With our production cost running so high right now, these strong export numbers could not come at a better time for producers,” said USMEF Chairman Keith Miller, a farmerstockman from Great Bend, KS. “I am convinced there is just no way we could be profitable without the outstanding premiums we’re receiving in the international marketplace.”

Lamb export volume, value show positive trend

Lamb exports achieved exceptional growth in April, more than doubling over April 2010 in volume (2,112 metric tons) and climbing 65 percent in value to $3.5 million. For the year, exports were up nearly 40 percent in volume to 6,112 metric tons. For the first time this year, export value is also above the 2010 level at $9.85 million—an 8 percent increase over last year.

This trend was driven by strong value growth in the Caribbean (up 24 percent to $2.5 million) and Canada (up 96 percent to $1.3 million). — WLJ

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