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July Pork Exports Rise; Beef Exports Set 2013 High

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Paced by strong performances from leading markets, both U.S. beef and pork exports continued their upward trend in July, with beef sales setting new highs for the year, while lamb exports slowed slightly for the month but remain up for the year, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Double-digit increases to the top three markets (Japan, Mexico and Canada) helped U.S. beef exports jump 9 percent in volume in July to 118,913 metric tons valued at $622.8 million, a 21 percent increase over last year. For the year, beef exports are up a fraction in volume (661,473 metric tons) and 9 percent in value to $3.45 billion.

Strong performances by Mexico, the China/Hong Kong region and Central/South America boosted pork exports by 8.5 percent in volume in July to 178,794 metric tons valued at $502.6 million, a 7.5 increase over 2012. Through July, pork exports were down 5 percent in volume and value, at 1.23 million metric tons and $3.44 billion. Excluding Russia, which has been closed to U.S. pork and beef since February, exports were down just 1 percent from last year’s record pace.

Lamb exports dipped a modest 3.2 percent in July on 15.7 percent lower volumes, but remain up by double digits for the year.

Beef Growth in Asia
“On the beef side, we are seeing the results of further rationalization of import practices in a number of key Asian markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “Expanded access in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan has helped each of these key markets move closer to their full potential, and we are focusing our resources there to maximize opportunities to serve the growing demand in the region.”

As Seng noted, for the first seven months of 2013, beef exports are up dramatically to these three key markets:
  • Japan: up 57 percent in volume and 43 percent in value (142,875 metric tons valued at $855.8 million)
  • Hong Kong: up 102 percent in volume and 128 percent in value (60,159 metric tons valued at $368.4 million)
  • Taiwan: up 158 percent in volume and 222 percent in value (17,434 metric tons valued at $139.6 million)

Other top-performing markets for beef exports include:
  • Mexico: rebounding from a slow start earlier in the year (down 9 percent in volume and value for the year to 110,689 metric tons valued at $470.9 million), July exports rose 16 percent in volume and 26 percent in value (21,309 metric tons valued at $91 million)
  • Central/South America: up 103 percent in volume (6,636 metric tons) and 41 percent in value ($17.1 million) in July; up 27 percent in volume and 16 percent in value for the year (25,963 metric tons valued at $88 million)

U.S. beef exports in July accounted for 12 percent of muscle cut and 15 percent of beef and variety meat production versus 11 and 14 percent respectively last year. The export value per head of fed slaughter set a new record of $272.90 – up $37.72 from last July. That despite the continued closure of the Russian market, which amounted to 42,319 metric tons valued at $179 million through July last year.

Pork Growth in Spite of Challenges
Pork exports in July were paced by the continued rebound of the Mexican market, strong variety meat demand in the China/Hong Kong region and rapid growth in both Central/South America (led by Colombia) and the ASEAN region (led by the Philippines). The 8.5 percent volume and 7.5 percent value increases in July were tempered by continued access issues in Russia and heavy competition in Japan.

“We are encouraged by the positive response to USMEF’s retail pork imaging campaign in Mexico, which is in direct correlation to sales growth there,” said Seng. “On the other hand, Japan is the highest-value pork market in the world, and we are facing intensified competition. We are one of 25 countries exporting pork to Japan, and while the U.S. industry has deemphasized the priority of our promotional programs in Japan, our competitors are very aggressively working to take our market share. As a result, our share of Japan’s pork import market is down 3 percent so far this year.”

Year-to-date, Japan’s total pork imports from all sources are down 3 percent to 548,608 metric tons, but imports from the U.S. are down 7 percent (245,938 metric tons). At the same time, exports from four leading competitors (Mexico, Chile, Spain and Poland) are up by double digits for the year.

Top-performing pork export markets include:
  • Mexico: up 21 percent in volume (55,567 metric tons) and 29 percent in value ($114.3 million) in July, and up 2 percent in volume (346,368 metric tons) and 3 percent in value ($645 million) over the record pace of 2012
  • Central/South America: up 49 percent in volume (9,437 metric tons) and 48 percent in value ($23 million) in July, and up 36 percent in volume (62,774 metric tons) and 34 percent in value ($156.3 million) for the year
  • ASEAN: up 60 percent in volume (6,407 metric tons) and 53.8 percent in value ($14.4 million) in July, and up 44 percent in volume (38,079 metric tons) and 36 percent in value ($91.6 million) for the year

U.S. pork exports in July accounted for 22 percent of muscle cut and 27 percent of pork and variety meat production, similar to last year (23 and 26.5 percent respectively) with a per-head export value of $55.35, down from last year’s $56.04 total.

Lamb Exports Dip in July, But Up for Year
Lamb exports for July dipped a modest 3 percent in value on 16 percent lower volumes, totaling 914 metric tons valued at $2.1 million. For the year, exports are up 12 percent in volume (8,177 metric tons) valued at $17.7 million, a 21 percent increase. Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean remain the top three export destinations.

Complete exports results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available online.

Editor’s notes:
  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise noted
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds

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