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Beef Exports Up, Pork Stable in August

Published: Oct 25, 2013
A strong performance by the top three international markets kept U.S. beef exports on an upward path in August while sales to China and several up-and-coming markets helped pork exports stay nearly even with last year’s record-setting pace, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Beef sales to Japan, Mexico and Canada all posted solid gains in August along with a resurgent Taiwan market as overall U.S. beef exports grew 5 percent in volume and 16 percent in value compared to year-ago levels, reaching 105,544 metric tons valued at $563.3 million. For the first eight months of 2013, beef exports are up 1 percent in volume and 10 percent in value to 767,017 metric tons valued at $4.01 billion.

Pork exports were bolstered by the largest sales to the China/Hong Kong region since February, as well as strong performances by the Central/South America and ASEAN regions. Total exports for August were down a fraction in volume (174,281 metric tons) but up 1 percent in value ($501.1 million), while 2013 totals were down 4.6 percent in volume (1,405,078 metric tons) and 4.5 percent in value ($3.94 billion).

The continued absence of the Russian market – closed to U.S. beef and pork products since February – continues to hinder exports. Excluding Russia, U.S. pork exports to all other markets are only down 1 percent this year, while beef exports are up 8 percent in volume and 16 percent in value.

“Challenges appear in many forms, including market closures and disruptions, international competition and product oversupply,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “For example, while the United States has enjoyed impressive growth in beef exports to Hong Kong, we remain locked out of the fastest-growing beef market in the world – China. And pressure from our international competitors is a significant factor in other markets, as we see in Japan, the top value export market for pork in the world.”

Per-head export values remain strong
Both pork and beef exports produced solid per-head values in August. The export value per head of fed slaughter for beef in August averaged $253.87, up $46.16 from last year. For pork, per-head totals were $52.43, up from $49.84 last year. Pork exports accounted for 21 percent of muscle cut production and 25 percent of total production (including variety meat) in August, similar to last year. Beef exports accounted for 11 percent of muscle cuts and 13.6 percent of total production, up roughly 1 percentage point for each.

Top pork markets
Mexico and Japan remain the top two markets for U.S. pork exports in 2013. Coming off double-digit increases in each of the past four months, exports to Mexico, the top volume market, slowed slightly in August, but volume remains up 1 percent for the year at 396,605 metric tons and value is up 3 percent to $747.5 million.

Top value market Japan dipped 14 percent in volume and 10 percent in value in August. Totals for 2013 stand at 284,970 metric tons valued at $1.26 billion, down 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

A rebound in exports to China/Hong Kong in August (up 28.7 percent in volume to 39,202 metric tons valued at $83.2 million, a 37.5 percent increase) helped bring year-to-date totals to 278,253 metric tons (down 2 percent) valued at $592.1 million (up 4 percent).

Other top-performing pork markets in August include:
  • Central/South America: up 26 percent in volume (9,011 metric tons) and 27 percent in value ($22.2 million) – exports to Chile jumped 276 percent in volume (1,820 metric tons) and 197 percent in value ($4.3 million) while exports to the largest market in the region, Colombia, were up 30 percent in volume and value (2,531 metric tons and $6.5 million)
  • ASEAN region: up 38 percent in volume (5,734 metric tons) and 55 percent in value ($14.3 million) – paced by Singapore’s 175 percent increase in volume (1,958 metric tons) and 263 percent jump in value ($5.4 million) and growth to the largest market in the region: the Philippines up 18 percent in volume (3,744 metric tons) and value up 30 percent ($8.8 million)

Top beef markets
The top three export markets for U.S. beef all performed well in August. USMEF’s continued efforts to capitalize on expanded access for American beef in Japan helped sustain growth which amounted to a 36.5 percent hike in volume (24,009 metric tons) and 13.3 percent in value ($135.1 million) in August. For the year, U.S. exports to Japan are up 53 percent in volume (166,884 metric tons) and 38 percent in value ($990.9 million).

Totals for Mexico in August rose 11.2 percent in volume: 20,208 metric tons valued at $88.9 million, a 24 percent jump, which helped year-to-date totals that are down 7 percent in volume and 5 percent in value (130,897 metric tons valued at $559.7 million).

Exports to Canada continued their positive trend, up 9.3 percent in volume (15,355 metric tons) and 7.6 percent in value ($104.6 million). Yearly totals are up 8 percent in volume (119,896 metric tons) and 12 percent in value ($825.5 million).

Other top-performing beef markets in August included:
  • Hong Kong: up 67 percent in volume (11,904 metric tons) and 142 percent in value ($78.2 million)
  • South Korea: up 35.8 percent in value ($47.8 million) on slightly (2.6 percent) lower volume of 7,646 metric tons
  • Taiwan: up 578 percent in volume (3,092 metric tons) and 684 percent in value ($24.9 million) as the rebuilding of the U.S. beef market there continues since technical issues regarding feed additives were partially resolved late last year.
  • Central/South America: up 13 percent (3,747 metric tons) in volume and 24 percent in value ($14.7 million), led by strong growth to Chile: up 37.7 percent in volume (1,139 metric tons) and 43.1 percent in value ($6.6 million)

Lamb exports down in August, remain up for year
For the year, U.S. lamb exports remain up 3 percent in volume (8,956 metric tons) and 13 percent in value ($19.6 million) despite a sluggish August. For the month, exports slipped 45 percent in volume (779 metric tons) and 29.7 percent in value ($1.9 million). Top international markets Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean all posted double-digit declines.

Complete exports results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available online.

Editor’s notes:
Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise noted.
One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.