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2014 pork exports off to good start

Posted March 17, 2014

U.S. pork exports opened the new year on a positive note, although market conditions suggest 2014 could be a challenging year for U.S. red meat exports, according to statistics released by USDA last week and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

While price is just one of many factors that affect red meat trade, higher U.S. pork prices will create challenges for American red meat exports in the months ahead, particularly in markets where customers are more price sensitive.

“In pork, there are a number of recognized challenges on the production side as well as unresolved access issues,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “In addition, we are also seeing increased competition in the form of higher marketing budgets and favorable prices for the EU, Brazil and Canada.”

Solid export growth to Mexico and the largest export volume to Japan since October 2012 helped push U.S. pork exports up 3 percent in volume (191,561 mt) and 2 percent in value ($535.6 million). Sales to the Hong Kong/China region were steady in volume versus last January, but rose 15 percent in value. The Central/South America region was up sharply, driven by triple-digit growth to Columbia, while both Oceania and the ASEAN region posted solid increases.

Pork exports accounted for 25.5 percent of total pork production and 21 percent of muscle cuts alone, up slightly from January of 2013. Export value averaged $54.70 per head, up $2.12 from last year.

Top-performing pork export markets in January were:
• Mexico: 59,825 mt (up 9 percent) valued at $113.2 million (up 10 percent)
• Japan: 39,069 mt (up 4 percent) valued at $163.4 million (down 6 percent)
• Hong Kong/China: 34,766 mt (even) valued at $82.7 million (up 15 percent)
• Central/South America: 11,284 mt (up 74 percent) valued at $29.1 million (up 79 percent)
         o Colombia: 4,732 mt (up 258 percent) valued at $12.4 million (up 270 percent)
• Oceania: 7,429 mt (up 16 percent) valued at $24.6 million (up 25 percent)
         o New Zealand: 1,085 mt (up 63 percent) valued at $3.3 million (up 62 percent)
• Caribbean: 3,138 mt (up 22 percent) valued at $7.3 million (up 14 percent)
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