Solid export numbers recorded in March for beef and pork muscle cuts gave the 2010 opening quarter good grades. The U.S. Meat Export Federation notes that muscle cut export value for both products are running ahead of their 2009 pace. Total exports are soft due to sluggish demand for variety meat.
Beef muscle cuts saw volume rise 22% to 156,947 metric tons for the quarter, with the increase in value up 24%. Combined beef and beef variety meat totals also rose 11% in volume and 14% in value. Total beef exports accounted for 10.6% of overall production in March compared to 9.4% in March 2009. Export value per steer and heifer slaughtered equated to $177.40 compared to $110.67 last year.
Pork muscle cut exports pulled ahead of their 2009 pace by 1% to 356,397 metric tons, and value was up 2%. Combined pork and pork variety meat totals fell slightly behind last year in bole volume and value.
However, the value of total pork exports in March rose 1% compared to March 2009, and it was 18% ahead of the value of pork exports in March 2008, which was a record-setting year for U.S. pork exports. Pork exports accounted for 22.5% of total production compared to 25% in March 2009, but muscle cut exports accounted for 19% of production, matching the same period from a year ago. On a per-head basis, export value hit $39.80, which slipped $1 from March 2009.
These numbers for both beef and pork came as significant declines hit leading value markets, USMEF reports. Beef exports to Mexico continue to be soft due to that country's weak economy. Though beef muscle cut exports were within 7% in volume and 10% in value of their 2009 pace, variety meat exports slipped dramatically.
With the exception of Mexico, U.S. beef exports are rising in nearly all key global markets. Asian markets are doing well, and gains have also been posted in Canada, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Europe. And USMEF says the Russian market has experienced "explosive growth."
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