U.S. pork exports post strong Q1 growth

U.S. pork exports post strong Q1 growth

Posted May 15, 2012

U.S. pork exports finished the first quarter 8 percent higher in volume (598,058 metric tons) and 20 percent higher in value ($1.66 billion) than last year’s record pace, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) this week.

March pork export volume of 198,972 metric tons was 8 percent lower than a year ago, but up 6 percent from February 2012. Export value of $570.5 million was 3 percent higher than last year and up 8 percent from the previous month. These results were led by excellent growth in the China/Hong Kong region and by strong performance in Mexico, Japan and Canada.

“A 20 percent increase in pork export value for the first quarter is extraordinary, especially considering the record performance of last year,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng.

March pork export value was particularly strong on a per-head-slaughtered basis, reaching $59.92. This was nearly $4 higher than a year ago and set a new monthly record, surpassing the previous high of $59.53 set in November 2011. Exports equated to 27.8 percent of total U.S. production of muscle cuts plus variety meat, and 24 percent when including muscle cuts only.

Mexico remains the leading market for U.S. pork on a volume basis, with first quarter exports up 17 percent in both volume (162,721 metric tons) and value ($299.7 million). Exports to Japan, which nearly reached the $2 billion mark in 2011, were up just 1 percent in volume (122,899 metric tons) but also achieved a 17 percent increase in value to $530.6 million. Exports to the China Hong/Kong region, which came on very strong in the second half of 2011, were 30 percent higher in volume in the first quarter (115,642 metric tons) and surged 82 percent in value to $234.9 million.