August pork exports were down in volume and value from a year ago, but still ahead of July totals, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
U.S. pork exports dipped 6% in volume (175,310 metric tons) and 7% in value ($495.5 million) compared to a year ago, but these totals were up 10% and 6%, respectively, from the previous month's performance. Through the first eight months of the year, 2012 pork exports were up 2% in volume (1.474 million metric tons) and 8% in value ($4.13 billion) from last year's record levels.
"We face a challenging business climate in several key markets, with rising production costs and slowing economic growth creating some anxiety among buyers," says USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng about overall meat trade. "We're also seeing a surge in domestic meat supplies in some areas, particularly in South Korea. But the commitment to enhancing global demand for U.S. beef and pork remains very strong, as evidenced by the terrific support of our producer organizations. These are the circumstances in which effective global marketing takes on an even greater level of importance, as producers need to maximize the value of every cut and every carcass."
Pork exports through August accounted for 23.7% of muscle cut production and 27% when including variety meats, compared to 22.8% and 27.3% in 2011. Export value averaged $56.51 per head slaughtered, up from last year's $53.54 during the first eight months of the year.
Pork exports to Mexico continue to perform well – with January-August volume (391,932 metric tons) increasing 14% and value ($727.2 million) up 11% from a year ago. August exports were up 16% in volume to 51,841 metric tons and 9% in value to $101.4 million.
"Mexico's meat processing sector is an outstanding customer for U.S. pork, but USMEF has also made considerable strides in building retail demand," Seng says. "This has made Mexico an attractive destination for a wider variety of pork cuts, which has really enhanced our export value."
Pork exports to Japan had slowed during the early summer, but rebounded in August to post the highest volume since February at 39,689 metric tons (valued at $169.9 million). Through August, exports to Japan were down 6% in volume (307,442 metric tons) but were 6% above last year's record value pace at $1.34 billion.
While pork exports to the China/Hong Kong region were higher through August (+11% to 282,637 metric tons and +35% to $569.4 million), they are not likely to match last year's pace in coming months. This is not due to poor market performance, but simply reflects the surge in export activity in late 2011 when China's domestic pork supplies were slumping and pork prices reached record levels. For August only, exports to China/Hong Kong were down 31% in volume to 30,450 metric tons and 34% in value to $60.5 million.
Other pork market highlights for January through August include:
• Exports to Canada were up 15% in volume (150,583 metric tons) and 18% higher in value ($549 million).
• Led by an exceptional performance in Colombia, exports to Central and South America were 18% higher in volume (53,206 metric tons) and up 19% in value ($134.1 million).
• Exports to Russia were 30% higher in volume (63,699 metric tons) and 22% higher in value ($182.9 million). Since Russia's WTO accession was completed in August, in-quota exports now enter at zero duty, rather than the previous 15%.
• While exports to the Oceania region were roughly steady with last year, exports to New Zealand were up one-third in volume (5,853 metric tons) and 30% in value ($17.7 million).
August lamb exports best of 2012
U.S. lamb exports have battled a tough economic environment in 2012 but fared better in August, totaling 1,415 metric tons valued at $2.65 million. This was slightly below last year's level, but marked the best performance of 2012. For January through August, exports were down 32% in volume (8,714 metric tons) and 18% in value ($17.3 million).
Complete export results for pork, beef and lamb are available online.