According to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, U.S. pork and beef exports concluded the first half of 2012 at a higher value than year-ago. Total first half pork exports of 1.13 million metric tons were valued at $3.17 billion, which is up 5% in volume and 13% in value over last year's record pace. Total first half beef exports of 550,462 metric tons (MT) were valued at $2.66 billion, down 11% in volume, but 4% higher in value.
June pork exports climbed by 4% over last year on steady volume. And despite a 15% decline in volume, June beef exports were still slightly higher in value than a year ago, says USMEF.
Markets driving first half export growth for U.S. pork included volume leader Mexico, which was up 13% in volume to 294,097 MT and 11% in value to $537.4 million. Value pacesetter Japan was up 7% in value ($1.01 billion) despite a 7% decline in volume (231,984 MT). June was a rather slow month for Japan, with export volume posting the lowest total (32,923 MT) since September 2010.
For beef, Mexico remained the leading volume market in the first half of the year but slipped to third (behind Canada and Japan) in value, totaling 103,751 MT valued at $446 million. These totals were down 18% and 6%, respectively, compared to the first half of 2011. June was the slowest month of the year for beef exports to Mexico, reflecting a very unfavorable exchange rate. In fact, the peso weakened to more than 14 pesos per dollar in late May and early June, its lowest level since the economic crisis of 2008-2009. In recent weeks the peso has fared only slightly better, trading mostly in the range of 13 to 13.5 per dollar.
"A sluggish economy and an oversupply of domestic beef have also slowed beef exports to Korea – not only for the United States but all major beef suppliers," says USMEF. "U.S. exports to Korea fell 24% in volume (65,963 MT) in the first half of the year and 19% in value ($309.2 million). Although there was no major interruption in trade, June results in Korea also reflected some impact from the April 24 BSE case."