Despite Supply Concerns, Red Meat Exports Remain Strong in February

April 8, 2014 02:22 AM
Export Ship

Buoyed by double-digit export growth to Mexico – the largest volume market for all U.S. red meat exports – U.S. pork and beef exports performed well in February despite growing concerns about tight supplies and rising prices, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef sales to Mexico in the first two months of 2014 are up 26 percent in volume to 37,638 metric tons (mt) and 40 percent in value ($183 million), while pork exports are 16 percent higher in volume (113,677 mt) and 21 percent in value ($222.3 million). Mexico also is the largest volume and value market for U.S. lamb exports.

February pork exports totaled 182,412 mt, up 2 percent from a year ago, while export value also rose 2 percent to $506.4 million. Cumulative exports for the first two months of the year similarly were 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (373,973 mt) and value ($1.04 billion).

February beef export volume was down slightly from a year ago to 85,876 mt, reflecting smaller variety meat exports, but value was up 12 percent to $480.3 million. January-February exports were 6 percent higher in volume (183,700 mt) and 14 percent in value ($994.8 million).

"Mexico continues to be an invaluable trading partner for our industry," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.

Pork highlights
February pork exports equated to 27.5 percent of total pork production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 23 percent of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $58.42 per head slaughtered, up 2 percent 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," said Seng.

Top performing markets in February (with comparisons to a year ago) included:

  • Mexico, up 25 percent in volume (53,852 mt) and 35 percent in value ($109.1 million).
  • Exports to Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, were 7 percent higher in volume (35,692) but 5 percent lower in value ($139.8 million).
  • Volume edged higher in Korea (12,643 mt, +3 percent) and export value climbed 10 percent to $36.6 million.
  • Exports to Colombia, which has quickly emerged as the largest market for U.S. pork in the Central-South America region, nearly doubled in both volume (4,288 mt, +88 percent) and value ($11 million, +89 percent).
  • Exports to Australia continued to rebound (5,987 mt, +11 percent with value $20.4 million up 17 percent).

Exports trended lower in February to China/Hong Kong on sharply lower demand for variety meat. Exports to Canada struggled in part due to the weakened Canadian dollar.

Beef highlights
February beef exports equated to 14 percent of total beef production and 11 percent of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $277.40 per head of fed slaughter, up 16 percent 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:

  • Japan was sharply higher than a year ago in both volume (14,377 mt, +48 percent) and value ($91.7 million, +40 percent), as exports to Japan under the expanded 30-month age restriction did not gain momentum until March 2013.
  • Exports to Mexico were up 29 percent in volume (17,410 mt, though this was the smallest monthly total since May) and surged 56 percent in value ($89.3 million).
  • Hong Kong continued to build on its strong 2013 performance, with exports increasing 15 percent in volume (10,024 mt) and 32 percent in value ($63.9 million).
  • 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 percent in the first two months of the year.

Lamb highlights
Lamb exports in February rose 1 percent in value ($2 million) on 6 percent lower volumes (849 mt). Mexico continues to be the dominant purchaser, accounting for 86.8 percent of the volume of lamb exports in the first two months of the year and 55.1 percent of the value. The Caribbean is the No. 2 market, with exports through the first two months of 2014 up 49 percent in volume and 23 percent in value. Saudi Arabia, which continues to emerge as a destination for U.S. lamb, is the third-largest single-country export market behind Mexico and Canada.

Complete export results are available on the USMEF statistics webpage.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation 

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