September was another solid month for U.S. pork exports as totals soared above year-ago levels, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) on Nov. 7.
September pork export volume was 183,936 mt – also down slightly from August, but up 7 percent from a year ago. For January through September, export volume was 5 percent above last year’s pace at 1.66 million mt. September export value was up 8 percent from a year ago to $491 million, while January-September export value was $4.27 billion, up 1 percent from the same period last year.
Exports accounted for 24 percent of total pork production in September and 20 percent for muscle cuts only. January-September ratios were 25 percent and 21 percent, up slightly from last year, mainly reflecting growth in variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $48.29 in September, up 3 percent year-over-year. January-September export value was down slightly, averaging $49.24.
Strong momentum continues for pork exports to Mexico
After a somewhat slow first half of the year, pork exports to Mexico moved higher in August and continued to climb in September – posting the second-largest monthly volume on record (66,567 mt, up 14% from a year ago). September value to Mexico was $131.4 million, up 25 percent from a year ago and the highest since December 2014. For January through September, exports to Mexico pulled within 4 percent of last year’s record pace in volume (510,737 mt) and moved 1 percent higher in value ($939.7 million). USMEF’s efforts to bolster pork demand in Mexico continue to pay dividends, as per capita pork consumption has increased nearly 20 percent since 2011 and now exceeds 40 pounds per year.
Another positive factor for pork exports to Mexico has been the slowdown in shipments to China/Hong Kong, where the product mix tends to be similar. While still well above last year, September exports to China/Hong Kong (36,184 mt, up 26%) were down significantly from the May peak of 58,000 mt, reflecting a rebound in China’s domestic pork production. For January through September, exports to China/Hong Kong were up 70 percent from a year ago in volume (406,422 mt) and 57 percent higher in value ($787.3 million).
While pork exports to Japan were below last year’s pace in both volume (289,594 mt, down 8%) and value ($1.16 billion, down 5%), higher-value chilled exports remain on a record pace – climbing 10 percent from a year ago to 164,087 mt. During periods of large U.S. production, chilled exports to Japan provide an especially important outlet for loins and butts.
A rebound in Korea’s pork production led to a slow start for U.S. exports in 2016, but exports to Korea are poised for a strong finish as September results moved higher year-over-year for the second consecutive month. Compared to last year’s large totals, January-September exports to Korea were down 27 percent in volume (94,774 mt) and 33 percent in value ($252.1 million).
Pork exports to Central America cooled in September but remain well above last year’s pace in 2016, totaling 46,426 mt (up 16%) valued at $110 million (up 11%).
- Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
- One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.