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U.S. pork exports up sharply in March

Posted May 7, 2014

Statistics released by USDA and compiled today by the U.S. Meat Export Federation show the pace of U.S. pork exports increased sharply in March from the same month a year ago, driven by double-digit increases to leading markets Mexico, the China/Hong Kong region and South Korea.

U.S. pork exports reached their highest monthly total since October 2012: 209,704 metric tons (mt) valued at $606.7 million, increasing 29 percent in both volume and value over March 2013.

When measured in proportion to overall U.S. pork production, March exports also showed gains. Total pork exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) equated to 31.5 percent of total U.S. pork production in March (26 percent of muscle cuts alone) versus 28 and 23.5 percent, respectively, a year ago.

The export value per head slaughtered set a new record of $69.93 for pork in March, topping the $60 per head mark for the first time and up from $50.38 last year.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has been a factor both in the United States and in a number of export markets, creating supply concerns going into the summer. But exports remained strong in March to virtually all key markets, despite a 4 percent decline in U.S. pork production for the month. Thus, the export increase likely reflects the fact that some product was shipped out of cold storage from previous months’ production.
• Mexico: up 38 percent in volume (54,284 mt) and 75 percent in value ($121 million).
• Japan: up 22 percent in volume (45,358 mt) and 8 percent in value ($175.3 million). This was the largest monthly sales volume to Japan since May 2011, driven by growth in chilled and ground seasoned pork exports.
• Hong Kong/China: up 49 percent in volume (41,295 mt) and 59 percent in value ($93.6 million) – the largest monthly total since February 2013, reflecting growth in muscle cut sales.
• South Korea: up 73 percent in volume (16,104 mt) and 83 percent in value ($46.4 million) – the biggest export month since March 2012.
• ASEAN: up 90 percent in volume (9,703 mt) and 93 percent in value ($25.4 million).
• Central/South America: up 29 percent in volume (10,985 mt) and 32 percent in value ($28.5 million), driven by record exports to Colombia (5,049 mt, up 193 percent; valued at $12.6 million, up 177 percent).
Editor’s notes:
Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise noted.
One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds

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