According to data from USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef exports were 3% higher in volume in May and up 9% in terms of value, while pork exports dipped 3% in volume and 3.6% in value. USMEF says the inability to ship beef and pork to Russia continues to put a damper on red meat exports.
"The loss of a key market like Russia ripples through the red meat industry," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "The absence of one of the largest meat purchasers in the world affects the volume of product sold and, more importantly, the price that other customers need to pay for it in a competitive marketplace."
Total U.S. beef exports in May of 97.82 MMT were valued at $513.6 million. For January through May, export volumes dipped 3% to 440,840 MT valued at $2.26 billion, a 3% increase over last year's record-setting pace. The value of beef exports in May equated to $231.67 per head of fed slaughter, up from $207.09 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $220.59 per head, up more than $10 from last year's total of $209.97.
Impressively, beef exports to Japan were up sharply to 28,122 MT, just 8% shy of totals posted in May 2003. "We were confident that the market for U.S. beef in Japan would rebound when our access expanded," said Seng. "Our team in Japan is working aggressively to explore untapped niches to maintain the growth momentum for beef."
Total pork exports of 180,637 MT were valued at $505.4 million in May. For the first five months of the year, exports were down 9% from the previous year to 882,905 MT and were valued at $2.47 billion, down 8%. The value of pork exports in May equated to $54.85 per head of fed slaughter, down from $56.47 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $53.14 per head, down from $58.36 last year.
Mexico led the way with exports of 52,295 MT, up 11% from the previous month. "The volume of U.S. pork that Mexico consumes is essential for our industry, and that is why we have focused resources on driving up per-capita pork consumption there," Seng explained. "On the other hand, Japan is the leading value market for pork exports, and there we are concentrated on higher value branded and chilled products."