August Pork Export Struggles Compared to 2008 Pace

US - While selected markets performed very well, the global pace of US pork and beef exports lost ground in August compared to 2008, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.
calendar icon 13 October 2009
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August pork plus pork variety meat exports were down 22 per cent in volume and 28 per cent in value compared to August 2008. For January-August, exports reached 1.212 million metric tons (2.67 billion pounds) valued at $2.85 billion, a decline of 12 per cent in volume and 11 per cent in value from the same period last year. While lower than the torrid pace of 2008, pork exports in August were still 35 per cent larger than August 2007 – the previous high for pork exports – and accumulated exports through the first eight months of the year were 51 per cent larger than January through August 2007.

Demand for US pork still strong in Japan, Mexico; offset by limited market access in China, Russia

In the first half of the year, the declining performance of certain pork export markets was largely offset by gains in the two leading destinations for US pork (Mexico by volume, Japan in terms of value). While Mexico and Japan continue to perform above their record pace of 2008, the gains achieved in these markets are no longer sufficient to overcome the decline in exports to China and Russia, which are at least partially the result of market access restrictions.

January-August pork exports to Mexico of 328,801 metric tons (724.9 million pounds), valued at nearly $487 million, were 38 per cent higher by volume and 17 per cent higher by value than the same period last year. Mexico’s August total was 5 per cent higher in volume and 6 per cent higher in value than in July 2009, and up more than 10 per cent in both volume and value over June 2009. This indicates demand for US pork has rebounded quickly from the H1N1 influenza crisis that gripped Mexico earlier this year.

The January-August volume of pork exports to Japan (289,179 metric tons or 637.5 million pounds) slipped slightly below its 2008 pace, but exports to Japan still increased by 6 per cent in value. In fact, pork exports to Japan cracked the $1 billion mark ($1.056 billion) at the earliest point ever in the calendar year.

Other bright spots for US pork through August include Australia (up 26 per cent in volume and 23 per cent in value over January-August 2008), the Caribbean (up 37 per cent in volume and 30 per cent in value), Taiwan (up 22 per cent in volume and 12 per cent in value) and the Philippines (up 12 per cent in volume and 10 per cent in value).

“USMEF has really intensified pork marketing activities in Japan and Mexico and those efforts are paying major dividends. It is especially gratifying to see pork demand in Mexico rebound from the H1N1 situation,“ said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “USMEF continues to work with the US government in support of its efforts to resolve market access issues with China and Russia, and we will continue to maximize our pork marketing opportunities wherever they are available.“

With China essentially closed to US pork for the entire summer due to H1N1 influenza-related restrictions, exports to China have declined by nearly 70 per cent in both volume and value. Russia has lifted almost all of its H1N1-related suspensions for US pork (the exception is pork originating from Florida), some remaining sanitary and phytosanitary issues have contributed to a decline in exports of almost 40 per cent compared to January-August 2008.

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