April Pork Exports Reflect Tough Economic Climate

US - Despite the prolonged slowdown in global economic activity and the initial wave of A-H1N1 Influenza-related market reactions, exports of US pork held up reasonably well in the month of April.
calendar icon 12 June 2009
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While pork plus pork variety meat exports declined by 10 per cent in volume compared to April 2008, the drop in value was limited to about 4 per cent. For the first four months of the year, pork export volume (648,063 metric tons or 1.43 billion pounds) is about 3 per cent above the record pace of 2008, and the value has increased about 6 per cent to $1.495 billion.

"The good news is that in spite of the turmoil we saw in the latter part of the month, April pork exports were not down as much as had been predicted given the continued economic slump," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "But while international markets are still a relative bright spot for the pork industry, we know they’re one part – and an important part – in the profitability of the US pork industry. USMEF’s team around the world is focused on expanding export opportunities and helping to provide the kind of momentum hog producers need right now.

"The trade environment for beef was not directly impacted by A-H1N1 Influenza as much as it was for pork," Mr Seng said. "But anytime consumer activity takes such a major hit, beef trade is likely to suffer. I believe US beef will perform well this year, but we need to see an economic rebound in key markets like Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan, and the industry also needs expanded access in many of these markets so we can move a wider range of cuts."

Pork exports to Mexico remain strong, though influenza impact continues

Mexico continues to be the pacesetter for US pork exports in 2009, with April exports climbing 61 per cent in volume and 50 percent in value compared to last year. For the first four months of the year, pork export volume to Mexico is up 71 per cent to 177,164 metric tons (390.6 million pounds) and the value has increased 62 per cent to $265 million. April export results, however, reflect only a partial-month impact from A-H1N1 Influenza. Because inventories backed up during the influenza-related slowdown of business activity in Mexico and consumer demand for pork is only recently returning to normal, this situation is likely to have a noticeable impact on May export results.

Perennially the leading market for US pork exports, Japan is performing well again in 2009 with export volume for the first four months of the year increasing 9 per cent to 158,265 metric tons (348.9 million pounds) and value up 24 per cent to $571 million. While Japan’s April export volume was down slightly due to higher inventories and lower domestic pork prices, exports still increased in value by nearly 19 per cent.

Other markets performing well in April included the Caribbean, where pork exports increased by 60 per cent in volume and nearly 50 per cent in value over last year. For January-April, pork exports to this region have climbed 70 per cent in volume and 66 percent in value over 2008. April exports to Taiwan increased 46 percent in volume and 43 per cent in value compared to April 2008, and in the first four months of the year have more than doubled in both volume and value over last year’s totals.

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