U.S. pork exports gained momentum in November as beef exports showed signs of a rebound, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
November exports of U.S. pork were up 8% from a year ago to 181,678 metric tons, the largest volume since May. Pork export value was $452.6 million, down 13% from a year ago but up slightly from October.
As has been the case in recent months, pork muscle cut export volume was up significantly year-over-year at 148,740 mt, up 19%, while variety meat exports declined 23% to 32,938 mt.
As USMEF has previously noted, year-over-year comparisons for pork variety meat may not be entirely accurate due to issues with 2014 data for Japan.
For the first 11 months of 2015, pork exports were down 3% from a year ago in volume to 1.94 million mt and 17% lower in value at $5.11 billion. January-November exports accounted for 24% of total production and 21% for muscle cuts only – down from 27% and 22%, respectively, in 2014. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $48.61, down 23% year-over-year.
November beef exports totaled 95,799 mt, down 1% from a year ago but the largest volume since June, while export value fell 17% to $519.7 million.
For January through November, beef exports were down 11% from a year ago in both volume (973,028 mt) and value ($5.8 billion). January-November exports accounted for 13% of total production and 10% for muscle cuts only – each down one percentage point from a year ago. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $279.12, down 6% year-over-year.
"November offered some encouraging signs for U.S. meat exports, though the results were certainly not at the levels we would like to see," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "Despite the weak peso, Mexico continues to be a very strong performer for U.S. pork, and our beef exports to Mexico have also held up fairly well. Exports to most Asian markets are showing upward momentum, but clearly the need to defend and expand our market share in Japan has never been greater."
Pork highlights >>
Demand for U.S. pork stronger
November pork exports to Mexico reached 61,275 mt, up 15% year-over-year and the third time in 2015 that monthly export volume topped 60,000 mt.
With January-November exports up 5% to 650,839 mt, export volume to Mexico is on pace to set a new record for the fourth consecutive year. Export value was down 20% to $1.15 billion, reflecting lower U.S. prices, but the Mexican peso was down an average of 16% in 2015, largely offsetting any break in pork prices for Mexican customers.
With several U.S. pork plants regaining eligibility for China near the beginning of November, exports to the China/Hong Kong region were the largest of 2015 at 33,462 mt, valued at $65.6 million. While trailing the performance of 2011-2013, these results were up 41% in volume and 9% in value from November 2014.
For January through November, exports to China/Hong Kong remained 2% lower in volume (305,365 mt) than a year ago and were down 11% in value ($632.9 million). With strong growth from the European Union, China/Hong Kong's total imports through November reached 1.7 million mt, up 7% from a year ago and on pace for a new record.
After cooling to some degree in the previous two months, November pork exports to South Korea reached 13,172 mt – the largest volume since May and up 5% year-over-year. For the first 11 months of 2015, exports to Korea were up 27% in volume (153,421 mt) and 11% in value ($433.8 million). Korea's imports from all suppliers were up 28% to nearly 450,000 mt, with U.S. market share holding fairly steady at 32%.
Exports to leading value market Japan continued to struggle in November, pushing the 11-month total down 13% year-over-year in volume (374,720 mt) and 18% lower in value ($1.46 billion). While demand for U.S. chilled pork has rebounded in Japan, these gains have been offset by lower volumes of frozen pork and ground seasoned pork.
With increased competition from the European Union, U.S. market share dipped to 39% in 2015, down from 44% in 2013. However, Japan's frozen inventories of imported pork recently fell 26% below the previous year's large volume, indicating potential for import growth in 2016.
Beef highlights >>
Beef export highlights
November beef export volume increased year-over-year to several key Asian markets, including:
• Exports to Korea increased 8% in volume (11,950 mt), while value fell 21% to $69.4 million. For January through November, exports were up 7% in volume (114,869 mt) but down 3% in value ($741.1 million). Korea's imports of chilled U.S. beef were up 40% through November, with U.S. market share gaining 6%age points to 30.6%.
• Export volume to Hong Kong was the largest of 2015 at 14,478 mt, up 2%, but value fell 30% to $79.6 million. For January through November, exports to Hong Kong were down 22% in volume (106,867 mt) and 29% in value ($720.7 million).
• Taiwan was up 16% in volume (2,685 mt) and 13% in value ($25 million). January-November exports were up 4% in volume (32,175 mt) and 10% in value ($290.3 million). U.S. beef dominates Taiwan's chilled imports, with 66% market share.
• Export volume to the Philippines surged 192% to 1,401 mt, and increased 35% in value ($5.4 million). January-November exports were up 5% in volume (11,868 mt) and 11% in value ($60.3 million).
Japan was the notable exception to the positive November trend, with exports declining 21% in volume to 14,515 mt and 31% in value to $94.4 million. Through the first 11 months of the year, export volume to Japan fell 15% to 190,751 mt. Although Japan is still the leading value market for U.S. beef, export value declined 19% to $1.19 billion. Japan imported less beef from all suppliers in 2015, and still has large frozen inventories of imported beef weighing on the market. But the U.S. lost market share to Australia in 2015, with U.S. share dropping from 38% to 35%. This was due in part to Australia's 10%age point tariff advantage following implementation of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement in January 2015.
November beef exports to leading volume market Mexico increased 3% year-over-year to 19,582 mt, while value dipped slightly to $86.9 million. For January through November, exports to Mexico were down 8% in volume (201,046 mt) and 5% in value ($994.5 million). Exports to Egypt, a key market for beef livers and other variety meat, increased by 33% in volume (10,700 mt) and 25% in value ($14.4 million) in November. Through the first 11 months of 2015, exports to Egypt were down 14% in volume (96,867 mt) but increased 5% in value to $143.1 million.
Looking ahead to 2016, USMEF sees opportunities for U.S. beef and pork to regain market share, with larger U.S. production and improved market access in some key regions, but the competitive landscape remains very intense.