CME: Beef Exports Slowed, Pork Up in December

13 February 2012, at 2:23pm

US - The US Census Bureau released on Friday the latest data on US livestock and poultry exports for the month of December. USDA/ERS will release today its own update based on these numbers but converting them to carcass weight equivalent, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Our summary below is based on the product weight data and reported in metric ton (a metric ton is 2,204.62 pounds).

Beef: Total shipments of fresh, frozen and processed beef in November were 76,341 MT, 4% higher than a year ago. The pace of growth for US beef exports slowed during Q4, largely due to lower shipments to Mexico and Hong Kong. Mexico accounted for about 17% of all US beef exports in 2011 and December shipments to this market were reported at 12,015 MT, down 21% from a year ago. Beef exports to Mexico in Q4 averaged 13% below year ago levels. Higher prices in the US market and a weaker Peso both have contributed to the decline in US beef exports to the Mexican market. Also, Mexican producers aggressively liquidated their beef cow herd due to extreme drought conditions in a number of Northern states, pushing more domestic beef into the market. While short term this has reduced demand for US product, longer term this will make Mexico even more dependent on the US for beef, pork and poultry supplies. Beef exports to Asian markets remain strong. Shipments to Japan in December were 9,362 MT, 22% higher than a year ago. For the year shipments to Japan are up 38% compared to 2010 levels. While there has been plenty of talk about changing the age limit requirement for US beef going to Japan (from 20 to 30 months), so far there has been no movement on that front. Exports to South Korea for the month were 12,095 MT, 23% higher than the comparable month a year ago.

Pork: US pork exports continued their torrid growth pace in December, closing the best year on record for the industry. Total pork exports were 165,782 MT, 21% higher than a year ago. For the year pork exports were up 22% from the previous year (on a MT basis). Shipments to China have surged in recent months and they continued to be very strong in December. US pork packers shipped 30,425 MT of pork to China for the month, 205% more than in December 2011. Other markets showed strong increases as well. Shipments to Japan were 40,450 MT, some 12% higher than a year ago while exports to Mexico at 42,943 MT rose 7% from a year ago. It will be interesting to see if US pork exports in the first half of 2012 are able to match year ago levels. While shipments to S. Korea and Japan are expected to be lower (last year they jumped due to FMD in S. Korea and the Tsunami impact in Japan). But, larger exports to China could more than offset the lower exports to these two markets. Exports to Canada also bear watching.