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Year-End Export Totals Show Positive Trend for Pork

by 5m Editor
19 February 2010, at 8:15am

US - US red meat exports finished 2009 on a positive note with healthy gains in volume over December of a year ago, positioning both beef and pork exports to start 2010 on an upward trend, according to statistics compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Although 2009 year-end exports of both US pork and beef were down compared to the prior year, US exports equaled or bettered their main international competitors.

US pork exports closed the year with an eight per cent jump in volume and six per cent in value for the month of December compared to year-ago totals. For the calendar year, pork exports registered the second-highest total in history, but fell nine per cent in volume and 11 per cent in value behind the record-setting totals of 2008.

However, US pork exports still outpaced the performance of global competitors, which (based on available data) slumped 15 per cent in value for the year, led by a 22 per cent drop for European Union pork producers.

“It’s been a challenging year for beef and pork producers around the globe, not just in the United States,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “However, it is encouraging to see consumer confidence returning and very positive signs of growth.”

Mr Seng also noted that USMEF is committing significant resources to key export markets to continue the momentum. On the beef side, the USMEF “Trust” imaging campaign in South Korea has generated very positive results in what was the No. 3 US beef export market prior to the discovery of BSE in 2003. The US soybean industry has also provided a $1.35 million cash infusion to promote US pork exports. USMEF is combining those funds with existing USDA Market Access programme (MAP) funds and new matching contributions from retailers to create more than $4 million in promotional impact for pork marketing programmes in Japan, Mexico and South Korea.

Pork exports trail 2008, but still far surpass any previous year

For the entire year, US export volume of 1.87 million metric tons (4.11 billion pounds) trailed the record pace of 2008 by 9 per cent, while value ($4.33 billion) was down by 11 per cent. A comparison to 2007, however, illustrates the degree to which US exports have expanded in a two-year period: 2009 pork/pork variety meat exports exceeded 2007 levels by 43 per cent in volume and 37 per cent in value.

Mexico was the volume leader with 503,503 metric tons (1.11 billion pounds) valued at $762.35 million – an increase of 27 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, over 2008. This record-breaking performance was particularly impressive considering the country’s sluggish economy and a temporary midyear disruption in pork demand due to H1N1 influenza.

US pork recorded another spectacular year in Japan, falling just short ($1.54 billion versus $1.545 billion) of the value record set in 2008. This was achieved despite an increase of about five per cent in Japan’s domestic pork production. The US share of Japan’s imported pork market also reached an all-time high of 46 per cent.

In addition to Mexico, single-year pork/pork variety meat export records were established in the following markets:

Taiwan (up 35 per cent in volume and 26 per cent in value over 2008), the Philippines (up 44 per cent in volume and 41 per cent in value), Australia (up 10 per cent in volume and 3 per cent in value), New Zealand (up 11 per cent in volume and 1 per cent in value) and Central and South America (up 12 per cent in volume and 14 per cent in value). Exports to the Caribbean also set a record, increasing 18 per cent in volume and 10 per cent in value over 2008. This performance was led by a surge in pork shipments to the Dominican Republic (up 41 per cent in volume and 32 per cent in value), with the United States even surpassing the tariff rate quota and safeguards established in the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement.

The biggest declines in US pork exports in 2009 came in two areas where market access and increases in domestic pork production were factors: China/Hong Kong and Russia. Exports to China/Hong Kong declined 35 per cent in volume and 38 per cent in value. Mainland China has been closed to US pork since June 2009 due to H1N1 influenza. Exports to Russia fell 36 per cent in volume and 39 per cent in value. Other markets that showed a significant decline in 2009 included Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union.

The US did fill its pork tariff rate quota (TRQ) with Russia of 100,000 metric tons (220.5 million pounds), exporting 102,805 metric tons (226.6 million pounds) of muscle cuts. Exports within the TRQ face a 15 per cent duty while over-quota exports face a 75 per cent duty. For 2010, Russia has reduced the US TRQ to 57,500 metric tons (126.8 million pounds), and the high over-quota duty is expected to limit US pork exports.

Overall, pork and pork variety meat exports equated to 22.5 per cent of US production compared to 24.4 per cent in 2008. The value of exports per head slaughtered was $38.44 compared to $42.31 in 2008.

Global pork export value for all major exporters was down in 2009 by about 15 per cent (to $12.75 billion). This decline included Mexico (-29 per cent), the European Union (-22 per cent) Brazil (-17 per cent), Canada (-11 per cent), with China and Chile each down about 1 per cent. The United States maintained a steady market share, accounting for about one-third of all global pork exports in 2009.