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Beef Exports Up; Pork Down Slightly as Russian Impact Felt

10 July 2013

US - Exports of US beef moved three per cent higher in volume in May, and a healthy nine per cent in value, while pork exports dipped three per cent in volume and 3.6 per cent in value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

The inability of the United States to ship beef and pork to Russia continues to put a damper on US red meat exports this year. Excluding Russia, beef export volume for May increased 12 per cent and export volume for the first five months of 2013 rose 3.5 per cent instead of falling 3 per cent.

Similarly, May pork exports increased 3.5 per cent in volume over last year’s totals if Russia is excluded. For January through May 2013, export volume would be down 5.8 per cent instead of 9 per cent if Russia is not included. An oversupply of domestic pork in many major export markets continues to pose a challenge to US exports.

"The loss of a key market like Russia ripples through the red meat industry," said US Meat Export Federation President and CEO Philip Seng. "The absence of one of the largest meat purchasers in the world affects the volume of product sold and, more importantly, the price that other customers need to pay for it in a competitive marketplace."

Summary of May beef results

In May, total US beef (muscle cut and variety meat) exports rose 3 per cent over last year’s levels to 97,820 metric tons valued at $513.6 million, a 9 per cent increase. They accounted for 10 per cent of beef muscle cut production and 12.7 per cent of beef and variety meat production, similar levels to last year.

For January through May, export volumes dipped 3 per cent to 440,840 metric tons valued at $2.26 billion, a 3 per cent increase over last year’s record-setting pace.

The value of beef exports in May equated to $231.67 per head of fed slaughter, up from $207.09 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $220.59 per head, up more than $10 from last year’s total of $209.97.

Markets where access for US beef has improved this year led the way in May. Japan jumped 74 per cent to 28,122 metric tons, just 8 per cent shy of totals posted in May 2003.

"We were confident that the market for US beef in Japan would rebound when our access expanded," said Mr Seng. "Our team in Japan is working aggressively to explore untapped niches to maintain the growth momentum for beef."

Beef exports also rose to Hong Kong (56 per cent to 7,182 metric tons) while Taiwan’s totals increased from 282 metric tons last year to 2,720 metric tons this May.

Exports were also steady to higher for: Canada (13,975 metric tons, +1 per cent), Egypt (11,364 metric tons, steady), Central/South America (3,979 metric tons, +15 per cent driven by larger volumes to Chile) and the Caribbean (1,678 metric tons, +2 per cent on larger volumes to Jamaica).

Beef exports to Russia in May fell from 7,906 metric tons last year to 4 metric tons this year. For the year, exports to Russia are down 99 per cent in volume (from 30,547 metric tons to 35 metric tons) and 99 per cent in value (from $133.77 million).

Besides Russia, countries where beef exports remain challenged include Mexico (15,140 metric tons, -4.5 per cent), South Korea (7,367 metric tons, -33 per cent), and ASEAN (1,372 metric tons, -59 per cent on smaller volumes to Viet Nam and the Philippines).

Mexico is buying less beef as consumers turn to more affordable proteins like poultry and pork. US poultry exports to Mexico were up 19 per cent through May to 356,253 metric tons. At the same time, South Korea’s increased domestic beef production, combined with lower-priced Australian product, has dampened demand for high-quality US beef.

Through May, Japan was the leading destination for US beef with exports up 56 per cent. They accounted for 20 per cent of all US beef exports by volume and 24 per cent of export value. Mexico was No. 2 in volume but Canada was second in value. South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Egypt rounded out the top seven in value. The volume ranking was: Japan, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Summary of May pork results

Total pork exports in May improved over 2013 trends but still dipped 3.3 per cent to 180,637 metric tons valued at $505.4 million, a 3.6 per cent decline from last year. They accounted for 23 per cent of muscle cut production and 26.4 per cent of muscle cuts plus variety meat, similar to last May.

For the first five months of the year, exports were down 9 per cent to 882,905 metric tons valued at $2.47 billion, down 8 per cent.

The value of pork exports in May equated to $54.85 per head of fed slaughter, down from $56.47 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $53.14 per head, down from $58.36 last year.

May pork exports were led by another strong month for Mexico (52,295 metric tons, +11 per cent) and steady year-over-year volumes to Japan (37,108 metric tons). Exports also were larger for Central/South America (10,008 metric tons, +58 per cent, led by growth to Colombia, Chile and Honduras), ASEAN (5,313 metric tons, +61 per cent on larger volumes to the Philippines), Caribbean (4,210 metric tons, +85 per cent with larger exports to the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago) and Taiwan (2,688 metric tons, +142 per cent).

"The volume of US pork that Mexico consumes is essential for our industry, and that is why we have focused resources on driving up per-capita pork consumption there," Mr Seng explained. "On the other hand, Japan is the leading value market for pork exports, and there we are concentrated on higher value branded and chilled products."

Pork exports to Russia in May fell from 12,250 metric tons last year to zero this year. For the year, exports to Russia are down 84 per cent in volume and value (from 37,075 metric tons to 5,770 metric tons and from $109.5 million to $17.9 million).

May pork exports to Canada were down 3 per cent to 19,093 metric tons but remained up 3 per cent for January through May. Exports to the China/Hong Kong region dipped 9 per cent in May to 34,543 metric tons, but were larger than the previous two months. South Korea (8,645 metric tons, -19 per cent) and Australia/New Zealand (4,251 metric tons, -28 per cent) also were down in May.

Through May, Mexico was the largest volume destination for US pork but Japan was No. 1 in value. China, Canada, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and the Philippines rounded out the top eight countries in volume, with the same markets leading for value: Japan, Mexico, Canada, China, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Canada and the Philippines were the only top markets that saw export growth in the first five months of the year, but exports were robust to many of the smaller markets. Larger domestic supplies and market access issues have created a challenging atmosphere for US pork exports thus far this year but exports showed positive signs of growth in May.

Lamb exports up sharply

Lamb exports reached three consecutive months above the 1,200 metric tons per month mark with 1,472 metric tons exported in May, an increase of 70 per cent over last year. This put January through May totals up 14 per cent to 5,840 metric tons with value over $13 million, up 30 per cent. Export growth has been led by top markets Mexico and Canada, but also to Bermuda and Saudi Arabia.

ThePigSite News Desk

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