July Meat Export Volumes Lower, but Values Remain on Record Pace

11:00AM Sep 08, 2014
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U.S. red meat exports slowed in July, the first time this year that year-over-year export volumes were lower for both beef and pork. But 2014 exports remain on a strong pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

July beef exports fell 15 percent in volume to 101,799 metric tons (mt), although this was in comparison to large totals in July 2013. July export value was steady at $621.7 million. For January through July, beef exports were still 4 percent higher in volume (687,752 mt) and remained on a record pace in value ($3.89 billion, +13 percent).

Pork export volume was down 3 percent in July to 173,270 mt, while value was up 14 percent to $573.5 million. For January-July, exports established a record pace in both volume (1.32 million mt, +7 percent) and value ($4.0 billion) – marking the first time pork export value has exceeded $4 billion before August.

U.S. beef performing well in key Asian markets
January-July beef exports equated to 14 percent of total production and 11 percent for muscle cuts only (these ratios were up slightly from a year ago). Export value per head of fed slaughter was $298.56 in July – down slightly from the June record but still up more than $25 year-over-year. For January-July, export value per head was $272.70, up $31.25.

"Demand for U.S. beef in Asian markets has continued to strengthen this year, adding further value to cuts that are popular there and underutilized domestically," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "With our limited supplies, competition for these cuts among Asian buyers contributes greatly to U.S. cattle prices. USMEF continues to work with our industry partners to educate the trade about alternative cuts and merchandising ideas, so that we can deliver value to our Asian customers even in these times of historically tight supplies."

January-July highlights for U.S. beef included:

  • Exports to South Korea totaled 65,792 mt (+12 percent) valued at $445.4 million (+41 percent) as demand for U.S. beef strengthened across all sectors and U.S. beef gained market share.
  • Despite slumping in July, exports to Hong Kong reached 81,372 mt valued at $564.6 million, up 35 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
  • While export volume to Japan was moderately lower, it remained the leading destination for U.S. beef exports in both volume (136,884 mt, -4 percent) and value ($860.8 million, +1 percent). Japan has been a difficult market for other suppliers this year, importing less beef from all other main exporters while U.S. beef continued to gain market share.
  • July exports to Taiwan increased 83 percent in volume (3,310 mt) and nearly doubled in value ($29.4 million, +96 percent), pushing year-to-date totals to 19,437 mt (+11 percent) valued at $162.2 million (+16 percent).
  • Though beef export volume to Mexico slowed modestly in July, export value for the month still reached $94.6 million (+4 percent). For January through July, exports to Mexico were up 23 percent in volume (136,200 mt) and 36 percent in value ($640.5 million). USMEF is concerned, however, about possible export data issues in the first half of 2013, which means that these year-over-year increases for Mexico could be overstated.

Pork exports held strong through July, despite record prices
January-July pork exports equated to 28 percent of total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – each up 2 percentage points from a year ago. July export value per head of slaughter was $67.81 – down from its record high in June but still up 23 percent from a year ago. January-July export value was up 21 percent to $64.45.

Seng noted that pork exports’ record pace in both volume and value so far this year was achieved despite record-high U.S. prices and intense competition in many key markets. High prices for domestic pork in most regions – other than Europe and China – also helped stimulate global demand for U.S. pork.

"Pork exports have overcome some severe price disadvantages this year, especially in Asian markets where we compete head-to-head with European pork," he explained. "U.S. prices began to moderate in August, so these price gaps have now been narrowed or eliminated. Going forward, this should relieve some of the price pressure on U.S. exporters."

Mainstay markets Japan, Mexico and South Korea, along with emerging markets such as Colombia, helped offset lower exports to China/Hong Kong. January-July highlights included:

  • Exports to Mexico remained well ahead of last year’s record pace, increasing 12 percent in volume (388,157 mt) and 38 percent in value ($887.1 million).
  • Despite a large increase in Japanese imports of European pork, U.S. exports performed well in leading value market Japan. Pork muscle cut exports to Japan reached 245,497 mt (+2 percent) valued at $1.13 billion (+5 percent).
  • A similar situation unfolded in Korea, where despite aggressive competition from the EU, total U.S. pork exports increased 31 percent in volume (83,149 mt) and 49 percent in value ($257.5 million).
  • Colombia is now the pacesetter for U.S. pork in the Central and South America region, with exports up 72 percent in volume (29,181 mt) and 88 percent in value ($80.8 million).

While Russia did not reopen to U.S. pork until early March, and then only to pork from two U.S. slaughter plants, exports through July still reached 32,163 mt valued at $116.7 million. In July alone, exports were 12,910 mt valued at $49.4 million. Exports to Russia were suspended on Aug. 7 due to Russia’s import ban on many agricultural products from the United States, Canada, the EU, Norway and Australia.

Lamb exports rebound in July, but still lower year-over-year
July lamb exports increased 3 percent in volume to 942 mt and hit their highest monthly value of the year at just under $3 million. For January through July, exports were still down 22 percent in volume (6,403 mt) and 5 percent in value ($16.8 million).

Demand in the Caribbean has shown a recent rebound, with exports through July reaching 420 mt (+27 percent) valued at $2.9 million (+20 percent). Exports were also higher to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Panama, partially offsetting lower totals for Canada.

Complete export totals for U.S. pork, beef and lamb are on the USMEF statistics webpage.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation