A very strong December performance helped push U.S. pork exports to an all-time volume record in 2016.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation compiled and released USDA export statistics on Feb. 8 that show export volume reached a record 2.31 million metric tons (mt) last year, up 8 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above the previous high in 2012. Export value increased 7 percent from a year ago to $5.94 billion. December pork exports totaled 222,635 mt, up 18 percent year-over-year, valued at $564.2 million, up 20 percent.
Exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total 2016 pork production and 21.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, in 2015. December ratios were 28 percent for total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – up significantly from December 2015. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $50.20 in 2016, up 4 percent from the previous year. The December average was $56.06, up 24 percent.
Pork to Mexico sets fifth straight volume record; China/Hong Kong also record-large
A remarkable second half pushed 2016 pork export volume to Mexico to its fifth consecutive record at 730,316 mt – breaking the previous record by 2 percent. Export value to Mexico totaled $1.36 billion, up 7 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record, trailing only the $1.56 billion mark reached in 2014.
“At this time of record-large pork production, it would be hard to overstate the importance of Mexican demand to the U.S. industry,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president/CEO. “This is especially true for hams, as we are locked out of Russia – once a large destination for U.S. hams – and China’s demand for imported hams has moderated in recent months. So now more than ever, we need strong demand from our key customers in Mexico, and they have responded with extraordinary results. December exports to Mexico accounted for nearly $16 per head, and that’s absolutely critical to the entire U.S. pork supply chain.”
Though down from the high levels seen earlier in the year, December pork exports to China/Hong Kong were still up 40 percent year-over-year in volume (47,242 mt) and 42 percent higher in value ($96 million). For the full year, exports to China/Hong set a new volume record of 544,943 mt (up 61%) and broke the $1 billion mark for the first time ($1.07 billion, up 53%).
Other 2016 highlights for U.S. pork exports include:
- Japan remained the leading value destination for U.S. pork, though exports fell 5 percent in volume (387,712 mt) and 2 percent in value ($1.56 billion) compared to 2015. However, chilled exports to Japan set a new record of 218,211 mt, up 8 percent.
- Led by a record performance in Central America and a fourth-quarter surge in Colombia and Chile, exports to the Central/South America region increased 11 percent in volume (135,954 mt) and 9 percent in value ($334.5 million).
- Pork shipments increased to both Australia and New Zealand, as export volume to Oceania reached 69,963 mt (up 10 percent) valued at $197.3 million (up 3 percent).
- Exports to the Dominican Republic set another record in 2016, topping the previous year’s totals by 10 percent in volume (25,591 mt) and 6 percent in value ($56.4 million).
- Fueled by increases in China/Hong Kong and Canada and steady exports to Mexico, pork variety meat exports jumped 20 percent in volume to 523,199 mt and 24 percent in value to $999 million – just short of the record levels reached in 2014.
Iowa remains nation’s export leader
Iowa was once again the nation’s leader in pork exports in 2016, topping $1 billion in muscle cut and variety meat sales for the 5th consecutive year. Last year’s value was a 6.48 percent drop from 2015. Japan continued to be Iowa’s best international customer with more than $459 million in purchases. Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong and South Korea rounded out the top five. Iowa pork was exported to 28 countries last year.
- Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
- One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.