U.S. pork exports in October edged higher than the previous month, but were still down from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled this week by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Pork exports were down 3 percent year-over-year in volume to 177,191 metric tons (mt), and fell 21 percent in value to $447.8 million, reflecting lower global pork prices. Through the first 10 months of the year, exports were down 4 percent in volume (1.76 million mt) and were 17 percent lower in value ($4.65 billion).
Similar to the previous two months, pork muscle cut exports improved significantly year-over-year in October, increasing 8 percent to 141,923 mt. But the total results were again held back by weak variety meat exports, which fell 31 percent to 35,268 mt (see editor’s note below).
October pork exports to Mexico edged slightly lower than a year ago, but remained strong at 59,766 mt. For January through October, exports to Mexico were up 5 percent in volume to 589,564 mt, while export value was down 20 percent to $1.04 billion.
Exports to Canada improved 2 percent year-over-year in volume (16,689 mt) in October, while value fell 15 percent to $62.9 million. Despite the weak Canadian dollar, pork exports to Canada have performed relatively well this year, with January-October volume down 5 percent to 165,655 mt and value down 13 percent to $652.9 million.
October exports to China/Hong Kong improved from last year’s low levels, posting the largest volume (32,899 mt, up 23 percent) since early 2014, while export value was down 3 percent to $64.3 million. November results could reveal further improvement, as eligibility to export to China was restored for several U.S. facilities near the end of October. For January through October, exports to China/Hong Kong were down 5 percent from a year ago in volume (271,903 mt) and 13 percent lower in value ($567.2 million).
October exports also trended higher for the Philippines (4,724 mt, up 73%), Australia (3,575 mt, up 62%), the Caribbean (3,619 mt, up 15%) and Taiwan (2,162 mt, up 123%), albeit from very low levels last year.
Pork demand remains sluggish in leading-value market Japan, with October exports down 10 percent from a year ago in volume (29,849 mt) and value falling 45 percent to $117.2 million. For January through October, exports were 13 percent below last year’s pace in volume (344,609 mt) and down 19 percent in value ($1.34 billion). After record-large imports last year, Japan’s volume from all suppliers was down 7 percent through October. However, its large frozen inventories have declined over the past several months and this could stimulate future demand.
January-October exports accounted for 24 percent of total pork production and 21 percent for muscle cuts only, down from 27 percent and 22 percent, respectively, during the same period in 2014. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $48.84, down 23 percent year-over-year.
“The slowdown in Japan and weak global demand for pork variety meat clearly represent a drag on overall exports in 2015,” noted USMEF President/CEO Philip Seng. “Recent plant relistings will expand opportunities for U.S. pork in China, which is a high-volume market for variety meat. But the global pork variety meat market is intensely price-competitive, especially with very large volumes currently emerging from the European Union, which are further buoyed by the weak euro.”
Source: USDA/FAS (includes exports and sales of whole muscle cuts).
Percent change is compared to the previous four-week average, unless otherwise noted.
Export is defined as an actual shipment from the U.S. to a foreign country.
Export sale is defined as a transaction entered into between a reporting exporter and a foreign buyer. Sales can be cancelled or adjusted in following weeks, thus “net” sales are reported as the difference between new sales and any cancellations or adjustments.