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U.S. Pork Exports Steady in September; Beef Continues to Trend Higher

September pork export volume was steady with both the August and year-ago levels, while beef exports edged higher in volume and jumped substantially in value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports totaled 183,481 metric tons (mt) in September, nearly identical to both the September 2016 and August 2017 volumes. September export value was $503.8 million, up 3 percent year-over-year. Through the first three quarters of the year, pork exports were 8 percent ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.79 million mt, while export value climbed 10 percent to $4.71 billion.

September exports accounted for 23.6 percent of total pork production and 19.8 percent for muscle cuts only – both down slightly from a year ago. For January through September, these ratios improved about one percentage point from a year ago to 26.5 percent of total production and 22.1 percent for muscle cuts. September export value averaged $48.98 per head slaughtered, up 1 percent from a year ago. Through the first three quarters of the year, per-head export value was $52.79, up 7 percent.

Although lower than the previous month, September beef export volume improved 2 percent from a year ago to 103,552 mt. Export value topped $600 million for the fourth consecutive month at $616.9 million, up 16 percent from a year ago. January-September volume was 926,985 mt, up 9 percent from the first three quarters of 2016, while export value was $5.27 billion – up 16 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above of the record pace established in 2014.

Beef exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total production in September, down one percentage point from a year ago, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 10.2 percent last year to 10.4 percent. For January through September, beef exports accounted 12.8 percent of total production (down from 13.2 percent) and 10.1 percent for muscle cuts (steady with last year).

September beef export value averaged $289.14 per head of fed slaughter, up 13 percent from a year ago. January-September export value averaged $277.31 per head, up 10 percent.

Pork exports to Mexico soften in September, but remain on record pace

Pork exports to leading volume market Mexico edged modestly lower in September at 63,771 mt – down 4 percent from a year ago – while export value slipped 7 percent to $122.1 million. But through the first three quarters of the year, exports to Mexico remained well ahead of last year’s record volume pace at 585,998 mt (up 15 percent), while export value was up 18 percent to $1.1 billion.

September pork export results were bolstered by year-over-year increases to South Korea, Canada, Central and South America, the ASEAN region and Taiwan, while export volumes trended lower to leading value market Japan, China/Hong Kong and Australia. Market-specific highlights included:

  • Pork exports to South Korea climbed 33 percent in volume (9,362 mt) and 27 percent in value ($25.9 million) in September, pushing results through the first three quarters of the year up 27 percent (to 120,633 mt) and 31 percent (to $330.9 million), respectively. Korea’s pork consumption is on pace to set another new record this year, and U.S. pork fits Korean consumer demand for a wide array of convenience foods and home meal replacement items.
  • In Canada, September exports climbed 4 percent in volume (20,436 mt) and 9 percent in value ($77.6 million), pushing January-September volume up 3 percent to 155,713 mt, while value was steady with last year at $592.4 million.
  • Colombia fueled another strong month for U.S. pork in South America, where September volume was up 55 percent to 8,629 mt and value jumped 43 percent to $21.6 million. Through September, exports were 90 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (72,551 mt) and 91 percent higher in value ($186.4 million). In leading market Colombia, domestic production has not kept pace with consumption growth and U.S. pork has become a preferred ingredient for Colombia’s production of processed pork items.
  • Led by Honduras and Guatemala, September pork exports to Central America increased 16 percent in volume (5,176 mt) and 15 percent in value ($13.1 million). Through September, exports climbed 6 percent in volume (49,093 mt) and 8 percent in value ($118.8 million).
  • A strong increase in exports to the Philippines pushed September results for the ASEAN region up 33 percent in volume (4,910 mt) and 64 percent in value ($17 million). January-September volume increased 24 percent to 35,194 mt while value jumped 38 percent to $95.4 million.
  • Despite trending lower in September, pork exports to leading value market Japan remained steady with 2016 through the first three quarters of the year at 289,947 mt, while export value increased 3 percent to $1.19 billion. Chilled pork exports were down 3 percent from a year ago in volume (158,962 mt) but increased 2 percent in value to $750 million.
  • Exports to China/Hong Kong continue to reflect China’s uptick in domestic pork production, as January-September exports declined 8 percent in volume (373,814 mt) and slipped 1 percent in value ($781.1 million). But pork variety meat exports to the region remained strong in September, pushing the January-September results up 11 percent year-over-year in volume (243,016 mt) and 22 percent in value ($534.8 million).
  • While September exports to Australia declined from a year ago, January-September volume was still up 5 percent to 50,478 mt while value climbed 11 percent to $147.4 million.

“The September export results really illustrate the importance of having a diverse range of pork export markets,” said USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “Even with our three largest markets down year-over-year, volume kept pace with last year and value posted an increase. This is why it is so critical for USMEF to continue identifying and developing new markets for U.S. pork, especially in this time of very large production.”

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Beef exports higher to most regions, but hurricanes impact Caribbean demand

Strong momentum for U.S. beef continued in most Asian and Western Hemisphere markets in September, though exports faced some new headwinds. Exports to leading market Japan held up well in September despite Japan’s recent duty rate increase (from 38.5 percent to 50 percent) on imports of frozen U.S. beef. September exports of frozen beef to Japan were up 44 percent from a year ago to 10,512 mt, while chilled exports increased 38 percent to 12,663 mt.

For January through September, exports to Japan increased 22 percent in volume (236,536 mt) and 30 percent in value ($1.45 billion). This included a 42 percent increase in chilled beef exports (113,347 mt) valued at $833 million (up 45 percent). Frozen beef was up 15.5 percent to 85,432 mt, valued at $334 million (up 23 percent).

“USMEF is pleased to see solid demand continuing for U.S. beef in Japan, and this is a testament to the strong, well-established relationships with our loyal customers and the success of U.S. beef promotional campaigns in Japan,” Seng said. “But the 11.5 percent duty rate increase needs to be closely monitored to ascertain where market dislocation will occur. We are watching this situation carefully and remain very concerned about the widening gap in duty rates between U.S. beef and Australian beef.”

Through the first three quarters of 2017, market-specific highlights for U.S. beef include:

  • Fueled by rapidly growing demand in South Korea’s retail sector, export volume to Korea increased 7 percent from a year ago to 131,774 mt. Export value ($856.9 million, up 20 percent) is on pace to easily break last year’s record of $1.06 billion. These totals include an 85 percent increase in chilled beef exports (31,648 mt), valued at $283 million (up 92 percent), as U.S. beef continues to gain market share in Korea.
  • Taiwan is also an outstanding destination for chilled U.S. beef, with the U.S. holding more than 70 percent of the chilled beef market. Through September, chilled exports to Taiwan were up 19 percent in volume (13,615 mt) and 24 percent in value ($162 million). Total exports to Taiwan increased 9 percent in volume (32,894 mt) and 21 percent in value ($297.5 million).
  • Within North America, September beef exports slowed slightly from a year ago in volume to both Mexico and Canada, but increased in value. Through September, exports to Mexico remained slightly ahead of last year’s pace in volume (175,585 mt, up 1 percent) and slightly lower in value ($726.9 million, down 1 percent). Exports to Canada were up 3 percent in volume (86,697 mt) and 6 percent in value ($603.8 million).
  • Strong growth in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 68 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (29,974 mt) and 53 percent higher in value ($149.1 million). The region is especially strong for beef variety meat, with exports through September more than doubling from a year ago in both volume (8,535 mt, up 125 percent) and value ($15.6 million, up 135 percent).
  • With hurricanes inflicting severe damage on several Caribbean islands, September beef exports to the region slipped dramatically from a year ago in both volume (1,653 mt, down 22 percent) and value ($9.9 million, down 48 percent). Through September, exports to the Caribbean were still up 4 percent from a year ago in volume (17,759 mt), but value fell 6 percent to $118.2 million.

Lamb export volume slumps, but value moves higher

September exports of U.S. lamb were just 572 mt, down 23 percent from a year ago, but value reached $1.85 million – up 10 percent. For the first three quarters of the year, exports slipped 14 percent in volume (5,579 mt) but were also up 10 percent in value to $14.7 million. The volume decline is due to slow demand for lamb variety meat, as muscle cut exports through September were up substantially in both volume (1,740 mt, up 21 percent) and value ($10.5 million, up 24 percent), including year-over-year increases to Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, Central America and Taiwan.

Complete January-September export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at jschuele@usmef.org or call 303-226-7309.

NOTES:

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