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April Pork Exports Lower but Remain Strong

by 5m Editor
13 June 2011, at 10:27am

US - Pork and beef exports slowed slightly in April when compared to the all-time record highs of the previous month, but still performed well above last year's pace.

April pork exports reached 181,109 metric tons valued at $487.8 million – up 16 per cent in volume and 22 per cent in value over last year.

On a cumulative basis through April, 2011 pork exports were 18 per cent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (735,294 metric tons) and 24 per cent higher in value ($1.87 billion).

Demand for US pork sizzling in North Asian markets

Japan remained the leading value market for US pork by a wide margin, with year-to-date exports up 17 per cent in both volume (163,775 metric tons) and value ($616.5 million). These increases are particularly impressive considering last year’s full-year export value record to Japan of more than $1.65 billion.

South Korea, which has seen its domestic pork production devastated this year by foot-and-mouth disease, had the sharpest growth in US pork demand for the first four months of 2011, with US exports to Korea up 187 per cent in volume (97,357 metric tons) and 245 per cent in value ($239.8 million). Exports to the China/Hong Kong region were also up impressively through April, increasing 38 per cent in volume (117,717 metric tons) and 26 per cent in value ($170.4 million).

Other pork market highlights for the first four months of 2011 include:

  • Exports to Canada were up 8 per cent in volume (62,268 metric tons) and 12 per cent in value ($212 million).
  • The Oceania region (Australia-New Zealand) continued to emerge as a strong growth market for US pork, increasing 29 per cent in volume (27,069 metric tons) and 72 per cent in value ($85.4 million).
  • Led by triple-digit growth in Chile, exports to Central and South America increased 24 per cent in volume (25,350 metric tons) and 34 per cent in value ($60.9 million).
  • Exports to Russia reached 21,508 metric tons valued at $61.4 million. This was more than double the volume and triple the value over the first four months of last year, though this is due in part to limited market access for US pork in early 2010.

Exports to Mexico – the leading volume destination for US pork – remain below last year’s record pace but still reached 173,647 metric tons valued at $321 million. The only market that is down significantly from last year is the ASEAN region, where exports have declined 40 per cent in volume (18,174 metric tons) and 29 per cent in value ($40.3 million). This is mainly due to lower totals to the Philippines, where exports reached a record high last year due in part to tight domestic supplies.

Pork exports equated to $56.99 per head in April, breaking the record of 56.52 set the previous month and jumping by more than $12 over April 2010. Exports were equivalent to 28 per cent of total US production in April and 27 per cent for the year so far –up from about 23.5 per cent a year ago.

Speaking from the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, USMEF Chair-elect Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, Indiana, said US producers have a growing awareness of how important these figures are to their bottom line.

"Pork producers are really excited about our international opportunities,” she said. “When they see a return of almost $57 per head being returned to the farm and nearly 30 per cent of our production being exported, they understand and appreciate the value of the international marketplace. I sense a lot of excitement around that issue today."