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Pork Muscle Cuts Lead February Export Advances

by 5m Editor
15 April 2010, at 7:05am

US - Both US beef and pork exports grew in February, with strong expansion in muscle cuts leading the way in both, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports for the month moved up slightly over one year ago, increasing 2.6 per cent in value to $377.6 million and just under one per cent in volume to 159,331 metric tons (351.3 million pounds).

"There are solid signs of progress in key markets," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "And that means positive growth in profitability for US producers."

Pork exports in February accounted for 25 per cent of total US pork production, equating to nearly $44 per head, up from $37.37 per head just last month.

Pork export growth to Mexico continues

Mexico emerged as a solid No. 1 destination for US pork in 2009, and that growth continues in 2010 with a nine per cent hike in volume to 99,768 metric tons (219.9 million pounds) in January and February valued at $173 million – a 24 per cent jump.

“Pork exports to Mexico helped contribute to the high ham values and high pork cutout values in the first two months of the year,” noted Erin Daley, USMEF manager of research and analysis. “In January-February, the pork cut-out averaged more than $70/cwt, which was about 24 per cent higher than last year.”

Domestic pork production in Japan continues to rise, affecting imports. According to data by Japan’s Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC), domestic pork production has increased year-on-year each month since March 2009. Marketing of domestic pork in Japan’s current fiscal year (data available for April 2009 through January 2010) is up seven per cent while marketing of imported pork is down nearly 14 per cent.

US pork muscle cut exports to Japan recovered in February, up 21 per cent from January but still off 8.5 per cent from last year. For the first two months of 2010, exports were down 17 per cent at 59,896 metric tons (132 million pounds) valued at $233.5 million, a decrease of 15 per cent. The US continues to dominate in the high-value chilled pork market, earning a 73 per cent market share – down only one per cent from last year. Canada and Denmark each gained mainly in frozen market share as the overall US share of total imports slipped from 48 per cent last year to 43 per cent.

Several other export markets helped the US maintain pork export levels in the first two months of 2010:

Canada – exports were up seven per cent in volume to 24,535 metric tons (54.1 million pounds) and 17 per cent in value to $84.3 million.

China/Hong Kong – this region purchased 15 per cent more muscle cuts in the two-month span compared to a year ago, totalling 20,591 metric tons (45.4 million pounds) valued at $34 million, an increase of 32 per cent. Hong Kong accounted for 100 per cent of the shipments due mainly to the continued H1N1-related Chinese market closure. February exports totaled 14,535 metric tons (32 million pounds) – the largest monthly volume of pork muscle cut exports to the region since July 2007. China/Hong Kong also was the No. 2 export market for US pork variety meat behind Mexico, with exports up 14 per cent to 25,658 metric tons (56.6 million pounds) valued at $34.4 million, down four per cent from last year.

The ASEAN region – muscle cut exports were double year-ago levels (up 111 per cent) to 11,247 metric tons (24.8 million pounds) valued at $22.3 million, an increase of 102 per cent. Exports to the Philippines jumped 117 per cent to 8,877 metric tons (19.6 million pounds).

South Korea – the impact of the Chile-Korea Free Trade Agreement has been felt this year, with two-month muscle cut US exports dipping 37 per cent to 10,815 metric tons (23.8 million pounds) valued at $23.6 million, a decrease of 41 per cent. According to Korean import data, the decline is much smaller, with imports from the US down 8 per cent in the first two months of 2010 while imports from all suppliers were up 4 per cent, due mainly to a 65 per cent increase in imports from Chile. “Through the Chile-Korea FTA, Chile benefits from duties of less than 10 per cent compared to 22 per cent to 25 per cent (depending on the product) paid by the US,” said Ms Daley. “The KORUS FTA would help put the US on track with Chile.”

Oceania – pork muscle cut exports to this region increased seven per cent to 9,031 metric tons (19.9 million pounds) valued at $19.5 million, which is even with last year. Exports to Australia were up 13 per cent to 8,469 metric tons (18.7 million pounds).

Russia – pork muscle cuts were down 85 per cent to 1,663 metric tons (3.7 million pounds) as the new export protocols were not brought online until March.