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July Pork Exports Slightly Lower than June

by 5m Editor
13 September 2010, at 10:20am

US - July values for US beef and pork exports dipped slightly from the totals achieved in June, but both exceeded year-ago levels with beef posting close to a 40 per cent jump over 2009 levels.

Pork export value in July was 4 per cent higher than last year at $385.8 million, pushing the 2010 cumulative January-July total to $2.74 billion. This is 8 per cent higher than in 2009 and just 1 per cent off the all-time record pace established in 2008. July export volume was 4 per cent lower than July 2009, but the cumulative volume (1.1 million metric tons) was still up 2 per cent from last year.

Pork export value near record pace; volume slightly ahead of 2009

Strong performance in the top three destinations for US pork – Japan, Mexico and Canada – has helped offset slower results in Korea, Vietnam, China and Russia and has kept export results ahead of last year’s pace. Mexico shattered its all-time record for purchases of US pork in 2009, but has surpassed that pace in 2010 by 8 per cent in volume (311,206 metric tons) and an impressive 31 per cent in value ($560 million). The market has proven very resilient, even as prices for ham and other popular cuts have risen significantly. It is important to note, however, that new 5 per cent retaliatory tariffs on ham and shoulder cuts had not yet taken effect in July.

Japan, by far the largest value market for US pork, got off to a slow start in 2010 but pulled even with last year’s pace in terms of volume (259,947 metric tons) and was 3 per cent higher in value ($968.9 million).

US pork sales in Japan received a boost from a promotion USMEF developed with Ebara Foods, Japan’s largest yakiniku seasoning manufacturer, which involved a US pork back rib promotion supported by an estimated $3 million television ad campaign (paid for by Ebara) and in-store promotions at 1,300 retail outlets across Japan.

“We are certainly pleased with the rebound in demand for US pork, but this is not the time for the US industry to let its guard down in Japan,“ said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “While Japan’s total pork imports are up, the US market share has actually slipped slightly compared to last year. We cannot afford to be complacent in Japan or rest on our past successes because this is the highest-value pork market that delivers tremendous returns for US producers. Every pork-producing country in the world knows this and will leap at the opportunity to capture market share if the United States pulls back.“

Exports to Canada, the third-largest market for US pork, reached 104,132 metric tons valued at $353.8 million – increases of 13 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.

Other pork highlights include:

  • Despite a significant decline in Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region are up nearly 40 per cent in volume (43,629 metric tons) and 50 per cent in value ($84.7 million). Extremely strong growth in the Philippines led the region into positive territory, along with a solid increase in exports to Singapore.

  • Exports to Hong Kong increased by 18 per cent in volume (114,771 metric tons) and 6 per cent in value ($163.7 million). This helped offset a decline in China caused mostly by lack of market access early in the year, putting the Hong Kong/China region effectively even with last year’s results. July exports to China were well above year-ago levels, but the market was effectively closed in July 2009 due to H1N1 influenza.

  • US pork continues to gain traction in Australia, where exports were up 18 per cent in volume (35,653 metric tons) and 30 per cent in value to $94.2 million.

  • Led by strong growth in Guatemala and Honduras, exports to Central and South America were up 35 per cent in volume (32,480 metric tons) and 39 per cent in value to $74.5 million.

  • US pork has achieved steady growth in the Caribbean, gaining 11 per cent in volume (26,933 metric tons) and 21 per cent in value to $56.2 million. The Dominican Republic is the largest market in the region, but Trinidad and Tobago has achieved the strongest rate of growth in 2010.

Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, says emerging markets for US pork are an important component of continued export growth.

“We are very bullish on the Philippines, for example, where the economy is showing a lot of promise and the investment we have made in USMEF promotions is really beginning to pay big dividends,“ he said. “Australia has also been a very strong area of growth for US pork. USMEF has established excellent relationships with the major meat processors in Australia, and we are moving an increasing amount of product into that sector.“