U.S. Meat Export Federation's (USMEF) analysis of USDA data revealed a mix of challenges and bright spots for the U.S. beef and pork industry for the month of January. Beef exports started 2013 with a continuation of 2012's trend for higher export values on lower volumes. Beef exports rose 9.3% in value from year-ago despite a 3.2% decline in volume for the January, thanks to sharp gains in exports to Hong Kong, Canada and Taiwan, as well as growth in exports to Japan. The decline in volume was more than accounted for by a 91.5% drop in exports to Russia due to the ractopamine dispute.
Pork exports in January improved from December but lagged year-ago levels by 7.6% in value on a 11.7% decline in volumes. USMEF elaborates, "The ASEAN region was the bright spot with 17.1% higher volumes and slightly higher (2.7%) value."
USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng says the challenges to red meat exports in 2013, "will require our industry to be creative and aggressive." Seng elaborates that the beef industry is "still dealing with market access barriers in Saudi Arabia and significant obstacles in Russia," but he says expanded beef access to Japan and Hong Kong should provide the market a boost in the months ahead.
An overabundance of domestic pork in South Korea and China's "aggressive efforts to build its domestic pork industry" have trimmed these countries' import needs. Seng also cited the devaluation of the Japanese yen, which has fallen 20% in value against the U.S. dollar since summer 2012, as a major purchasing pattern factor for beef and pork.
"Looking ahead, USMEF is focusing on building demand for chilled and branded pork in both Japan and Korea as well as overall consumer demand for pork in Mexico," says Seng. "We will see benefits from these campaigns in the year ahead."
Beef export highlights
- For the month of January, U.S. beef exports totaled 86,608 metric tons valued at $443.8 million. The decline in volume versus January 2012 was more than accounted for by a 91.5% drop in exports to Russia, which has been delisting U.S. beef plants for detection of growth promotant residues.
- Canada emerged as the top volume and value market for U.S. beef exports in January, buying 16,586 metric tons (up 32% from last year) valued at $102.9 million (42% increase).
- Hong Kong saw its U.S. beef purchases rise 144% in volume and 115% in value to 7,004 metric tons valued at $37.1 million – pushing it to No. 6 on the beef export list.
- Taiwan continued its recovery as an export market with its January purchases rising 14.5% in volume and 39.7% in value (3,167 metric tons valued at $22.6 million).
- The value of beef exports to South Korea rose 12.2% to $58.2 million on slightly lower volumes (down 1% to 11,602 metric tons).
- Anticipating the Feb. 1 expansion of the market to beef from cattle under 30 months of age, Japan increased its U.S. beef purchases 5.5% in volume and 21.6% in value to 10,217 metric tons valued at $72.5 million.
Pork export highlights
- For the month of January, pork exports totaled 186,681 metric tons valued at $523.7 million – declines of 11.7% in volume and 7.6% in value from last January, but up slightly from
- December’s totals of 186,135 metric tons valued at $515.9 million.
- Japan remains the value leader, buying 37,745 metric tons of U.S. pork (-9.5%) valued at $173.6 million (+1.7%).
- Mexico remains the volume leader, purchasing 55,103 metric tons (-9%) valued at $102.7 million (-6.9%).
- Russia posted the largest pork export gains at 3,314 metric tons (+8.2%) valued at $10.2 million (+9.7%), although some of that purchase may have been made in anticipation of Russia’s closing of its borders to U.S. pork and beef in February.
- The ASEAN region posted a 17.1% gain in pork volume (to 4,921 metric tons) and a 2.7% bump in value to $10.8 million.