US pork exports below last year - USMEF

Mexico is the leading market for US pork exports
calendar icon 8 August 2022
clock icon 5 minute read

Exports of US pork remained below last year’s large totals in June, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Pork exports reached 219,131 mt in June, down 8% from a year ago, valued at $649.9 million (down 7%). First-half exports were 18% below last year at 1.29 million mt, valued at $3.62 billion (down 16%).

“The decline in first-half pork exports was not unexpected, given the recovery in China’s domestic production and its reduced need for imports,” said USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The good news is China’s hog price is up about 40% since mid-June and we are seeing some rebound in China’s demand for pork variety meat. Meanwhile pork shipments to Mexico remain on a record-shattering pace and demand has also strengthened in recent months in markets such as Korea, Colombia and the Caribbean. In these key destinations, the gains US pork has made in the processing and retail sectors are being complemented by stronger sales in foodservice.”

Pork exports to leading market Mexico remained on a record pace in June, up 3% from a year ago to 72,361 mt, while value climbed 11% to $166.4 million. This pushed first-half exports to Mexico to 469,295 mt, up 18% from a year ago, valued at $881.5 million (up 12%).

After starting the year slowly, Colombia’s demand for US pork surged in the second quarter. June exports totaled 11,120 mt, up 90% from a year ago and the largest of 2022. First-half exports to Colombia were 10% above last year in volume (51,813 mt) and value was on a record pace at $119.5 million (also up 10%). While a large percentage of the US pork exported to Colombia is used for further processing, the US industry has made significant gains in Colombia’s retail and foodservice sectors.

While June pork exports to the Dominican Republic cooled from the very large totals posted in April and May, shipments still more than doubled from year ago in both volume (7,235 mt, up 118%) and value ($19.7 million, up 116%). First-half exports to the DR increased 49% to 43,345 mt, with value climbing 52% to $108.3 million. With shipments also trending higher to the Bahamas and the Leeward-Winward Islands, first-half exports to the Caribbean increased 40% in volume (51,748 mt) and 45% in value ($137.7 million).

Other January-June results for US pork exports include:

  • Pork exports to South Korea totalled 16,469 mt in June, up 10% from a year ago, while export value increased 8% to $57.8 million. While first-half volume to Korea was down 4% to 92,457, export value still climbed 8% to $325.3 million. Korea’s imports of chilled US pork followed a similar trend – down 6% in volume (4,316 mt) but climbing 11% in value to $30.9 million. Similar to beef, the Korean government also recently implemented a duty-free quota for imported pork. Because imports from the US, European Union and Chile already enter Korea at zero duty under free trade agreements, the main beneficiaries are expected to be Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian pork. Canada is the United States’ primary competitor in Korea’s chilled pork market.
  • While still below last year’s volumes, pork variety meat exports to China gained momentum for the second consecutive month in June. Exports reached 26,407 mt, the largest since September, valued at $66.2 million. Through June, pork variety meat exports to China were still down 20% from a year ago to 133,834 mt, with value falling 9% to $370.3 million, as China’s COVID-related inspections and restrictions on imported products hurt demand. However, the uptick in May and June suggests that Chinese importers are once again able to profitably utilize imported pork variety meat. For pork and pork variety meat, total first-half exports to the China/Hong Kong region were 222,784 mt, down 53% from a year ago, while value fell 46% to $595.1 million.
  • First-half pork exports to Japan were 9% below last year at 158,239 mt, valued at $667.3 million (down 8%). Some Japanese buyers have shifted to large imports of frozen European pork, benefiting from the EU’s currency advantage and broad availability as China’s demand for EU pork declined. Logistical challenges have also negatively impacted US exports to Japan, with the Port of Oakland handling the majority of shipments. But Japan’s first-half imports of chilled US pork in were down just 1.6% year-over-year, totalling 104,204 mt valued at $480 million.
  • After soaring last year, pork exports to Central America slowed in the first half, trailing last year’s record pace by 12% in volume (59,729 mt) and 9% in value ($160.3 million). However, when compared to the first half of 2019 and 2020, exports were up 33%.
  • Following a down year in 2021 and a slow start this year, pork exports to Australia are showing signs of a rebound, with June exports totaling 4,190 mt valued at $15 million. While still lower year-over-year, this was the second consecutive month in which exports to Australia seemed to regain momentum. Prior to recent increases in shipping costs and other transportation obstacles, as well as an influx of inexpensive European pork, Australia was a leading destination for boneless USU hams and loins used for further processing.
  • June pork export value equated to $61.87 per head slaughtered, down 5% from a year ago. The first-half average was $58.14 per head, down 12%. Exports accounted for 27% of total June pork production and 23.6% for muscle cuts, down from 29.4% and 25.5%, respectively, a year ago. For January through June, exports accounted for 26.4% of total pork production and 23.5% for muscle cuts, each down about four percentage points from the high ratios posted in the first half of 2021.
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