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Export Markets Are Bright Spot For US Pork and Beef Industries

by 5m Editor
11 April 2008, at 8:41am

US - Continued success in the export market helped buoy the US pork industry in the first two months of 2008, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“The growth engine for the US meat industry will continue to be the export market,” said Philip M. Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The weakened US dollar, competitive pricing for US exports, and declining production by some of our competitors combine to create conditions that support continued growth internationally.”

The US pork industry enjoyed its fifth consecutive month of record-breaking exports (including variety meats) in February. Exports in February reached 346 million pounds (156,969 metric tons), an increase of 6 percent over the record set in January, and a 55 percent jump over export totals from February 2007.

“Pork production is running 12 percent over last year, making it impossible to raise prices to cover the ever-increasing costs of production,” said Erin Daley, USMEF manager of research and analysis. “Without pork exports, at these production rates the US market would have to absorb the equivalent of an additional 60,000 hogs per day, which would drive prices down significantly.”

For the two-month period (January-February 2008), pork plus pork variety meat exports were up 41 percent, totaling 671.6 million pounds (304,651 metric tons) valued at $685 million.

The US beef industry export news also is positive. Exports of beef muscle cuts increased 36 percent to 168.5 million pounds (76,445 metric tons) when compared to the same two-month period in 2007, and beef variety meat exports increased 17 percent to 118 million pounds (53,529 metric tons) for a combined total of 286.5 million pounds (129,974 metric tons) valued at $442 million, an increase of 40 percent.

Pork export highlights

On a volume basis, China/Hong Kong was the largest market for US pork and pork variety meats for January/February 2008 (164.7 million pounds or 74,745 metric tons – a 287 percent increase over the same time period in 2007). However, Japan remains No. 1 on a value basis at $210.9 million, or 31 percent of total pork and pork variety meat export value.

Other highlights from the two-month period for pork plus pork variety meat exports:

  • Japan: up 4 percent to 143 million pounds (64,927 metric tons)
  • Mexico: up 2 percent to 122 million pounds (55,384 metric tons), but still trailing the record export volumes of 2006
  • Canada: up 28 percent to 59.4 million pounds (26,955 metric tons). Exports were basically on track with the strong volumes recorded during the final quarter of 2007, reflecting large live hog imports from Canada
  • Russia continues to be a tremendous growth market: 164 percent growth to 58.9 million pounds (26,716 metric tons, including 21,812 metric tons of muscle cuts and 4,904 metric tons of variety meats). “This is an excellent example of the competitiveness of US pork, enhanced by the weak dollar,” noted Daley. February exports at 34.8 million pounds (15,786 metric tons) were nearly equal to the monthly record of 35.1 million pounds set in November 2007.
  • South Korea: down 2 percent to 53 million pounds (24,051 metric tons), but February exports were larger than any monthly volume last year with the exception of December. Also note that South Korean import statistics show imports from the United States up 10 percent while imports from the EU are down 16 percent and those from Canada are down 10 percent.
  • ASEAN: exports to the Philippines increased 141 percent to 7.6 million pounds (3,470 metric tons) and exports to Vietnam grew from essentially zero to 2.4 million pounds (1,099 metric tons). Total exports to the region in February (nearly 6.7 million pounds) surpassed the monthly record set in December 2007.
  • EU: exports were up 83 percent to 11.6 million pounds (5,275 metric tons), primarily destined for France (4.4 million pounds), Germany (1.8 million pounds) and Italy (1.3 million pounds). However, USMEF notes that US exports (reported by the Department of Commerce) are significantly larger than EU imports, reported by the European Commission. For example, Department of Commerce pork export stats for January 2008 show 3.8 million pounds while EU stats show 2.0 million pounds of beef imports from the United States.
  • Caribbean: up 42 percent to 8.3 million pounds (3,780 metric tons), including exports to the Dominican Republic (up 200 percent to nearly 2.8 million pounds).
  • Central and South America: up 4 percent to 11.7 million pounds (5,337 metric tons) led by Honduras (up 3 percent to 3.5 million pounds).
  • Oceania: down 16 percent to 14.6 million pounds (6,635 metric tons), but Daley notes the good news that the Australian Productivity Commission released its final report and did not recommend safeguard action against pork exports to Australia. Therefore, the United States can continue to export pork to Australia duty-free.
  • Taiwan: down 19 percent to 5.1 million pounds (2,341 metric tons) as market access issues continue to impede US pork exports.

5m Editor