The U.S. Meat Export Federation says based on USDA data, exports of U.S. beef and pork were down from year-ago in terms of volume in March, but beef exports in terms of value were higher. March beef exports of 83,612 MT were down 7% from year-ago but export value of $440.7 million was slightly higher. March pork exports declined 18% from a year-ago in both volume (163,004 MT) and value ($469.5 million), hampered by market closure in Russia, larger domestic supplies in China and South Korea and weakened demand in top markets Japan and Mexico.
Beef exports finished the 1st quarter 4% lower in terms of volume but 5% ahead of last year's record setting pace in terms of value. Meanwhile, first-quarter pork exports were down 12% from last year’s record pace in volume and 11% lower in terms of value.
"We are definitely facing a challenging environment in several of our leading markets," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "Some of these trends are anticipated, such as the lower demand for exports where domestic production is up and inventories are plentiful. But the trade impasse with Russia is very frustrating because we have lost access to a market where demand for our product is extremely strong. In other destinations we have seen the overall demand for high-quality proteins become sluggish, and USMEF is very focused on reversing this trend."
March beef exports equated to 9% of U.S. muscle cut production and 12% when adding variety meat – ratios consistent with a year ago. Export value equated to $222.20 per head of fed slaughter, up from 9% in March 2012. First-quarter export value was $221, also an increase of 9%.
Pork exports accounted for 20% of muscle cut production in March and 23.4% including variety meat. This is down from 24% and 27.8%, respectively, in March 2012. March export value equated to $50.38 per head, down from $59.92 in March 2012. First-quarter export value averaged $53.38 per head, down 10% from a year ago.