U.S. red meat exports are off to a strong start in 2012 after a record-setting year in 2011. January pork exports (including variety meat) jumped 28% in volume and 43% in value while beef exports were even in volume but rose 14% in value, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
"There is a challenge to follow a very successful year like 2011 and sustain the momentum," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "The good news is that there are opportunities to expand the presence of U.S. red meat by exploring new market niches as well as increasing access with several key trading partners."
Several key measurements also showed continued growth: export value per head and percentage of total production exported. For pork, January's export value equated to $59.44 per head of commercial slaughter compared to $43.59 a year ago, and 29.6% of total production (including variety meat) was exported in January versus 24.2% last year. For just muscle cuts, 25% of production was exported this January compared to 20% last year.
Beef exports equated to $197.95 per head of fed slaughter in value compared to $170.10 last year. The percentage of production exported - 12.3% for beef and variety meats and 9% for just muscle cuts- remained the same.
Sizable increases in the volume and value of U.S. pork exports to the top five customers -- Mexico, China/Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and South Korea -- were noted in January. Meanwhile, total beef exports (including variety met) in January were unchanged in volume, but up 14% in value compared to year-ago, according to USMEF. For just the muscle cuts, beef export volume was 4% lower this year compared to January 2011, but the value of exports was 12% higher. The U.S. exported 89,454 MT of beef, valued at $405,918 in January. The volume of beef exports to Mexico, Canada and South Korea declined slightly in January, while exports to Japan were 2% higher. The value of beef exports to all four of those countries increased over year-ago.
After a record-setting 2011 that saw the U.S. export nearly 1.3 million metric tons of beef valued at more than $5.4 billion, the industry maintained the pace in January with equal export volumes (89,454 metric tons) while value jumped 14% to $405.9 million.