Strong Momentum Continues for US Pork Exports

US - August was a solid month for both US beef and pork exports as both easily outpaced the results of August 2009 and increased their gains over the cumulative totals from the first eight months of 2009.
calendar icon 18 October 2010
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August pork exports were up 9 per cent in volume and 16 per cent in value over last year, totaling 146,459 metric tons valued at $369 million. For January through August, exports totaled 1.244 million metric tons valued at $3.11 billion. The volume is 3 per cent higher than 2009, while the value is up 9 per cent over last year and trails the record pace of 2008 by just 3 per cent. Mexico ($644 million, up 32 per cent) and Canada ($409 million, up 25 per cent) led pork export value growth, but exports to Japan (the largest value market for US pork) were also up 3 per cent in value to $1.09 billion.

On a per-head basis, pork export value was $40.87 in August, up from $34.50 last year. For January-August, export value was $43.92 compared to $38.79 last year. Exports as a per cent of total production equated to 22.4 per cent in August and nearly 24 per cent for the year. Both figures are up slightly from August 2009 (20 per cent) and January-August 2009 (22.4 per cent).

Pork stays on a roll in Mexico, other Western Hemisphere markets

While US pork exports achieved excellent growth in Mexico and Canada (detailed above), smaller markets in the Western Hemisphere also performed extremely well. Exports to Central and South America climbed 34 per cent in volume (36,762 metric tons) and 36 per cent in value ($84.9 million), led by strong results in Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. Exports to the Caribbean were up 9 per cent in volume (29,973 metric tons) and 21 per cent in value ($63.2 million), with growth led by the Dominican Republican and Trinidad and Tobago.

“USMEF has begun some aggressive marketing initiatives in Central America this year and we are seeing strong gains for US pork in this region,“ said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “Despite some ongoing market access issues in some of the islands – such as Jamaica and St. Lucia – US pork is also achieving great success in the Caribbean. Individually these markets are rather small, but their collective growth potential is significant.“

While Japan remains the largest export value market by a large margin, export volume to Japan also achieved a small increase over last year to 291,821 metric tons. The value total of $1.09 billion is actually well ahead of the pace set in 2008, when exports to Japan set an all-time value record. Increasing domestic inventories in Japan, however, make a new record unlikely in 2010.

“We are very pleased with the results achieved in Japan,“ Mr Seng said. “US pork has expanded its presence through new products such as back ribs, and gained excellent traction in high-growth sectors such as convenience stores. But Japan is an exceptionally competitive market both in terms of domestic pork and products from other foreign suppliers. So we must be even more aggressive if we are going to maintain our strong market share because our competitors are really stepping up their efforts in the world’s largest and most lucrative imported pork market.“

Other market highlights include:

  • Led by exceptional growth in the Philippines, exports to the ASEAN region were up 36 per cent in volume (47,053 metric tons) and 48 per cent in value ($92 million). The Philippines now accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the ASEAN market for US pork, though Singapore has also achieved solid growth this year.

  • Exports to Australia are up 14 per cent in volume (39,033 metric tons) and 28 per cent in value ($105.7 million). US pork set a record in Australia last year and has achieved steady growth there since entering the market in 2004. The United States is now the largest volume supplier of pork to Australia, holding 36 per cent of the imported pork market.

  • Exports to both China (13,577 metric tons valued at $21.7 million) and Russia (10,141 metric tons valued at $19.5 million) were large in August, with China just missing an all-time monthly volume record. Despite exports to Russia still being constrained by a number of delisted plants, these results show a strong rebound in demand for US pork (particularly variety meat) in two key markets that were down sharply in 2009 and in the early months of 2010.

“Certainly our cumulative results in China and Russia are not where we would like them to be at this point in the year,“ Mr Seng said. “However, we are once again very active in both markets and they are no longer leaving a hole in our worldwide export totals. This is good news, as these are critical components in our efforts to maintain a diverse base of export markets to support continued US pork export growth.“

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