November Beef, Pork Exports Continue Rebound

January 14, 2010 06:00 PM

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation

U.S. beef and pork exports continued their rebound from the slump earlier in the year, with pork exports reaching their highest level of 2009 in November while beef exports edged 4% above year-ago levels, according to statistics released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). In addition, lamb exports maintained their pace for an outstanding year.

For the month, total pork (muscle cuts plus variety meat) exports reached 169,547 metric tons (373.8 million pounds) – essentially even with the volume for November during the record-shattering pace of 2008. This marked the first time monthly pork exports have reached or exceeded 2008 levels since March of 2009.

November's total beef exports reached 76,693 metric tons (169 million pounds), with muscle cuts enjoying a 23% hike over year-ago levels while variety meat slipped 27%.

While the export increase is a positive sign that economic indicators around the globe are pointing up, total beef and pork exports remain behind 2008 levels. For the first 11 months of 2009, the U.S. has exported 819,778 metric tons (1.8 billion pounds) of beef valued at more than $2.8 billion and 1.7 million metric tons (3.7 billion pounds) of pork valued at nearly $4 billion.

Beef is down 10% in volume and 16% in value compared to 2008 while pork is down 10% in volume and 13% in value.

Lamb and lamb variety meat exports maintained a fast pace with a 41% jump in volume over November of 2008 accompanied by a 14.7% boost in value. For the first 11 months of the year, total lamb exports are up 50% in volume and 13% in value. Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean rank No. 1, 2 and 3 in U.S. lamb export volume while the Caribbean holds the top spot for lamb export value.

Beef trends

The top markets for U.S. beef (muscle cuts plus variety meat) through the first 11 months of 2009 based on volume continue to be Mexico, followed by Canada, the Middle East, Japan and the ASEAN (primarily Vietnam). When measured in value, Mexico remains the leader, followed by Canada, Japan, South Korea and the ASEAN.

Negative publicity surrounding beef trade with Taiwan may have impacted that market's performance, as beef exports declined in November when compared to the previous month. However, November beef exports to Taiwan still exceeded year-ago levels by about 3 percent in volume and more than 16 percent in value.

Beef exports to Mexico continue to slump as that country remains plagued by the lingering economic downturn. Total U.S. beef exports year-to-date are down 27% in volume and 35% in value. The downturn in this one key market alone accounts for 98.2% in the decline in beef export volume compared to 2008 and 82.7% of the decline in the value of exports versus last year.

"Our neighbor to the south is a critical partner for the U.S. beef industry,” said Seng. "While the economic challenges there are considerable, our team in Mexico is working diligently in partnership with retailers and food service to rejuvenate their marketing programs and raise the visibility of U.S. beef.”

Exports to Canada also have declined this year – down 27% in volume and 12% in value.

The most significant gains in U.S. beef exports have come from Japan (up 23% each in volume and value), the ASEAN (up 21% in volume and 20% in value) and the greater Hong Kong/China region (up 139% in volume and 97% in value).

"Despite the limitation on beef exports to Japan from cattle under 21 months of age, we continue to regain market share there,” said Seng. "Our team in Japan is working very hard to maintain that momentum in 2010 with partnerships like the one that just started with Gust Restaurant chain where our goal is selling 1.5 million chuck eye roll steaks in a three-month promotion. That kind of collaboration with our retail and food service partners is essential to sustaining our export growth.”

Complete statistics are available online.

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