Meat export volumes lower in August, but value remains strong

Meat export volumes lower in August, but value remains strong

Posted Oct. 23, 2014

For the second consecutive month, August export value for U.S. pork increased year-over-year despite declines in volume. Export value remains on a record pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) earlier this month.

Pork export volume was down 6 percent year-over-year in August to 162,992 mt – due in part to market access issues in Russia and the China/Hong Kong region – but export value still achieved a 6 percent increase to $529.9 million. For the first eight months of the year, pork export volume was up 6 percent to 1.48 million mt while value increased 15 percent to $4.53 billion.

Pork export value per head of slaughter was $64.08 in August (+22%) and $65.29 for January through August (+21%). Exports accounted for 28 percent of total pork production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – up from 26 percent and 22 percent, respectively, during the first eight months of 2013.

August pork exports may have slowed due to the late-July peak in U.S. pork prices, with international buyers waiting for greater price stability before bolstering inventories. Exports also felt the impact of Russia’s import ban, which was imposed Aug.7 on pork muscle cuts from the United States, Canada and the European Union. U.S. pork exports to Russia were 5,738 mt in August – less than half the July volume.

Canada’s pork exports fell 12 percent in August, with plummeting volumes for Russia partially offset by increases to China/Hong Kong, Korea and Mexico.

Mexico, which is the leading volume destination for U.S. pork, continued to perform very well in August – with exports reaching 56,528 mt (+13%) valued at $133.5 million (+30%). For the first eight months of the year, exports to Mexico maintained a record pace of 444,685 mt, valued at $1.02 billion.

Other January-August pork export highlights include:

  • Exports to Korea were up 31 percent in volume (89,334 mt) and 49 percent in value ($278.3 million). In just eight months, pork export value to Korea has already surpassed the 2013 year-end total of $276. 1 million.
  • Colombia has rapidly emerged as the leading market for U.S. pork in the Central-South America region, with exports totaling 32,949 mt (+69 percent) valued at $91.7 million (+85 percent).

August exports to the China/Hong Kong region slowed for the fifth consecutive month, pushing January-August totals down 15 percent in volume (237,753 mt) and 10 percent in value ($530.1 million) from a year ago. On Aug. 12, China delisted six U.S. pork plants and six cold storage facilities, significantly reducing U.S. supplies eligible for the market.

Pork muscle cut exports to Japan slumped in August, pushing the January-August volume slightly below last year’s pace (272,222 mt, -1%), while export value remained 3 percent higher at $1.26 billion.

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