U.S. pork exports had an impressive month in April, and the news was even better for U.S. beef. U.S. pork/pork variety meat export value increased by about 7 percent over April 2009 and reached its highest level since November 2008. Beef/beef variety meat export value topped its year-ago level by 27 percent and was about 10 percent higher than in April 2003, the last year of “pre-BSE” market access.
According to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), April pork/pork variety meat exports totaled 156,211 metric tons (344.4 million pounds) valued at $400.95 million, bringing the cumulative January-April total to 625,004 metric tons (1.38 billion pounds) valued at $1.51 billion. April beef plus beef variety meat exports totaled 82,827 metric tons (182.6 million pounds) valued at $311.3 million, bringing the cumulative 2010 total to 307,949 metric tons (678.9 million pounds) valued at $1.1 billion.
April results were even more impressive when focused solely on muscle cuts. Pork muscle cut value ($345 million) was 11 percent above April 2009, while beef muscle cut value ($268 million) was up 37 percent from a year ago.
Pork exports to Mexico still booming; making gains in Japan
Through the first quarter of the year, U.S. pork exports had shown mixed results in the two largest international markets. While Mexico was running well ahead of its record-breaking 2009 pace, exports to Japan took a step back due to higher domestic supplies and increased foreign competition. Both countries, however, had a strong positive impact on the April export results. Mexico was up only slightly in terms of pork/pork variety meat volume (41,094 metric tons or 90.6 million pounds), but value increased by 22 percent to $73.6 million. The increase in muscle exports was even greater – 27 percent in volume (28,154 metric tons or 62.1 million pounds) and 53 percent in value ($56.1 million). For the year, Mexico continued to top last year’s pace by 6 percent in volume (187,991 metric tons or 414.4 million pounds) and 25 percent in value ($331.1 million). For muscle cuts only, Mexico is up by a remarkable 25 percent in volume (128,615 metric tons or 283.5 million pounds) and 47 percent in value ($250.8 million).
Japan, the perennial value leader for U.S. pork, was up 9 percent in volume (to 42,271 metric tons or 93.2 million pounds) and 8 percent in value ($159 million) over April 2009. For muscle cuts only, April exports to Japan increased by 6 percent in volume (40,024 metric tons or 88.2 million pounds) and 8 percent in value ($155.9 million). For the year, Japan closed the gap on last year’s pace but was still down 11 percent in volume (140,544 metric tons or 309.8 million pounds) and 7 percent in value ($528.8 million). For muscle cuts only, Japan trails 2009 by 8 percent in volume (133,850 metric tons or 295.1 million pounds) and 6 percent in value ($516.4 million).
“We are obviously delighted to see strong signs of recovery for U.S. pork in Japan,” said USMEF Vice Chair Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, Ind. “Japan was a $1.5 billion market in both 2008 and 2009, so it is critical to our worldwide performance. While we’re not quite back to the tremendous pace that was previously set in Japan, we made significant strides in that direction in April.”
Rodibaugh was also excited about the momentum U.S. pork continues to build in Mexico.
“Our April volume to Mexico was the lowest so far this year, but the value numbers were just fantastic,” she said. “As pork prices rise domestically and internationally, Mexico is proving very resilient. Buyers have found a quality product in U.S. pork, and they are showing a strong willingness to pay for it.”
Other key market highlights include:
Pork/pork variety meat exports to Hong Kong remained strong in April, and were up by 48 percent in volume and 28 percent in value for the year. With U.S. pork only recently regaining access to mainland China, however, exports to the China/Hong Kong region are still down slightly in terms of both volume (85,169 metric tons or 187.8 million pounds) and value $135.7 million) compared to last year.
A strong April performance pushed 2010 exports to Canada up 12 percent in volume (57,487 metric tons or 126.7 million pounds) and up 21 percent in value ($188.5 million) over last year.
U.S. pork exports to the ASEAN region were up 51 percent in volume (30,462 metric tons or 67.2 million pounds) and 65 percent in value ($57 million). Growth was led by the Philippines, where a shortage of domestic pork supplies has helped stimulate demand. Exports to the Philippines were up 83 percent, with value doubling (to $46 million) compared to 2009. Exports to Singapore were up by about one-third over last year.
Exports to Australia were up 12 percent in volume (18,881 metric tons or 41.6 million pounds) and 9 percent in value ($44.86 million). April exports to Australia slowed from their first-quarter pace but were still significantly higher in volume (up 19 percent) and value (up 26 percent) than in April 2009.
Central/South America continued to show strong growth in 2010, with exports up by about one-third in volume (20,453 metric tons or 45.1 million pounds) and nearly 40 percent in value ($45.6 million). The top markets were Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia.
Exports to Taiwan were up only 2 percent in volume (12,854 metrics tons or 28.3 million pounds) through April but export value was up 21 percent to $23 million.
South Korea has proven to be a difficult market in 2010, with exports down 27 percent in volume (33,946 metric tons or 74.8 million pounds) and 31 percent in value ($69.5 million). But the market showed positive momentum in April, with the largest export volume since October 2009 and export value reaching its highest level in the past 12 months.
January-April exports to Russia were down more than 70 percent in both volume and value compared to last year. April exports, however, were the largest of the year as many recently relisted plants resumed exports to Russia.
Beef exports up sharply in most key markets
While economic conditions remain difficult for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports are thriving in all other key global markets. For the year, Mexico remains the No. 1 market in terms of both volume (77,027 metric tons or 169.8 million pounds and value ($246.9 million) but these totals are down by 25 percent and 27 percent respectively compared to the first four months of 2009.
Despite dramatic gains in many overseas markets, Canada remains the No. 2 destination for U.S. beef. Beef/beef variety meat exports to Canada are up 13 percent in volume (45,563 metric tons or 100.5 million pounds) and 17 percent in value ($199.4 million) compared to January-April 2009. In fact, April export value to Canada ($59.9 million) pulled within just 4 percent of Mexico ($62.2 million).
U.S. beef exports to Asia continued to grow at a torrid pace in April. Japan is the leading Asian market in 2010 in terms of both volume (26,740 metric tons or 58.9 million pounds) and value ($141.8 million). Each of these totals represents an increase of 34 percent over January-April 2009. But South Korea is right on Japan’s heels, with a volume of 26,321 metric tons (58 million pounds) valued at $112.3 million – increases of 39 percent and 58 percent, respectively, over last year.
The ASEAN region also performed very well in April, pushing its totals for the year up by 14 percent in volume (29,589 metric tons or 65.2 million pounds) and 16 percent in value ($97.9 million). Interestingly, this increase was achieved despite fairly flat results in Vietnam – by far the largest ASEAN market. The primary growth drivers were the Philippines and Indonesia, the No. 2 and No. 3 markets in the region.
Taiwan appears to have shaken off any lingering controversy over the recent reintroduction of U.S. bone-in beef, and may be headed for another record performance in 2010. Exports to Taiwan were up 69 percent in volume (11,533 metric tons or 25.4 million pounds) and 79 percent in value ($60 million).
Hong Kong has also achieved rapid growth this year, nearly tripling its imports of U.S. beef in terms of both volume (9,099 metric tons or 20.1 million pounds) and value ($35.6 million).
“The growth our beef industry is achieving in Asia right now is extremely encouraging,” said USMEF Chair Jim Peterson, a rancher from Buffalo, Mont. “Despite the market access limitations we still face in several of these markets, their appetite for U.S. beef is clearly on the rise. As a cattleman, it’s really gratifying to see our exports to Asia gaining so much momentum.”
Impressive growth numbers are not limited to Asia, however. Exports to the Middle East continued their strong run, increasing 24 percent in volume and 45 percent in value over January-April 2009. Led by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, a growing percentage of U.S. beef exports to the Middle East are muscle cuts. But beef variety meat exports are showing signs of a strong price recovery in the region, as they were up only slightly in volume but up by nearly 25 percent in value through April.
Russia has also expanded its purchases of U.S. beef to include a much higher percentage of muscle cuts, and this was illustrated clearly in the January-April results. Exports to Russia were up 173 percent in volume (19,525 metric tons or 43 million pounds) but an even more remarkable 613 percent in value ($47.5 million) over 2009.
In contrast to the downturn in Mexico, exports are performing very well in other Western Hemisphere markets. Beef/beef variety meat exports to the Dominican Republic were up more than 60 percent in volume and value, while Jamaica was up more than 30 percent. Exports to Central/South America were up by 47 percent in volume and 54 percent in value, with variety meat exports to Peru and Colombia accounting for much of the growth.
U.S. lamb exports gain strength in April
U.S. lamb export volume has been fairly strong throughout 2010, but export value has slumped. Signs of a turnaround were evident in April, as lamb/lamb variety meat exports gained 44 percent in volume and 36 percent in value over April 2009. For the year, export volume was up 25 percent while export value was flat compared to January-April 2009. Mexico is this year’s growth market for U.S. lamb while exports to the other two mainstay markets – the Caribbean and Canada – are considerably lower.
Detailed results for all markets are available online.
Posted by Kaci Switzer