Double-digit growth to Mexico kept U.S. pork and beef exports afloat in February, even as higher prices and tight supplies continue to surface, USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation showed Monday.
Beef sales to Mexico in the first two months of 2014 are up 26% in volume and 40% in value, while pork exports are 16% higher in volume and 21% in value, USMEF reports.
February pork exports are up 2% from a year ago, while export value also rose 2% to $506.4 million. Cumulative exports for the first two months of the year similarly were 2% ahead of last year's pace in both volume and value.
February beef export volume was down slightly from a year ago, reflecting smaller variety meat exports, but value was up 12% to $480.3 million. January-February exports were 6% higher in volume and 14% in value.
February pork exports equated to 27.5% of total pork production and 23% of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $58.42 per head slaughtered, up 2% from a year ago and the highest monthly average since March 2012.
Strong demand in Mexico continues to be an important driver of U.S. pork exports, as February shipments far exceeded last year's totals and even topped the very strong results posted in February 2012.
"Just as the PED virus has had an impact on domestic pork production in Mexico, it has likely been a factor in pork imports trending higher to South Korea," Seng commented.
Top performing markets in February (with comparisons to a year ago) included:
• Mexico, up 25% in volume and 35% in value; Japan, up 7% in volume, but 5% lower in value; Korea, up 3% in volume and 10% in value; Australia, up 11% in volume and 17% in value; and Colombia, up 88% in volume and 89% in value.
Columbia has quickly emerged as the largest market for U.S. pork in the Central-South America region, USMEF says, doubling its year-ago volume and value tallies.
Exports trended lower in February to China/Hong Kong on sharply lower demand for variety meat, the data shows. Exports to Canada struggled in part due to the weakened Canadian dollar.
February beef exports equated to 14% of total beef production and 11% of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $277.40 per head of fed slaughter, up 16% from a year ago and just short of the record total achieved in December 2013 ($279.16).
Top performing markets in February (with comparisons to a year ago) included: Mexico, up 29% in volume at 17,410 metric tons (though USMEF says this was the smallest monthly total since May) and 56% in value; and Hong Kong, up 15% in volume and 32% in value.
Japan was sharply higher than a year ago in both volume, up 48%, and value, up 40%, as exports to Japan under the expanded 30-month age restriction did not gain momentum until March 2013.
Coming off two down years caused by import restrictions, and continuing the momentum from October 2013, Indonesia was U.S. beef's top destination in Southeast Asia with exports totaling 1,136 mt valued at $5.1 million.
Similar to U.S. pork, beef exports to Canada have slumped along with the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar. Exports are also off to a slow start this year in Egypt, Taiwan and the Philippines. Smaller volumes have been exported to Korea, but at higher prices, with value up 17% in the first two months of the year.