November Pork Exports Record-Large; Beef Exports Also Strong

Editor’s notes:
– Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise indicated.
– One metric ton = 2,204.622 pounds.

U.S. pork exports set another monthly volume record in November, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which helped offset record-high production and provide a significant boost to pork cutout values. Exports totaled 217,080 metric tons valued at $597.85 million – up 22.5 percent and 35 percent, respectively, over November 2010. This boosted the January-November volume total to 2.04 million metric tons (up 18 percent year-over-year) and the value total to $5.526 billion (up 27 percent). This puts U.S. pork export value, which had never reached $5 billion before this year, on pace to approach the $6 billion mark in 2011.

November beef exports also performed well, reaching 105,268 metric tons valued at $456.25 million. This was steady with the October 2011 volume and up slightly in value. On a year-over-year basis, November exports were up 4 percent in volume and 17 percent higher in value from the very strong totals recorded in November 2010. This boosted the January-November export total 22 percent higher in volume than a year ago to 1.179 million metric tons, and up 35 percent in value to $4.944 billion. When December results become available, beef export value will eclipse the $5 billion mark for the first time ever.

Per-head pork export value soars to nearly $60 in November

November pork exports equated to nearly 29 percent of total production (including variety meat). In terms of muscle cuts only, exports still totaled 24 percent of total production. Export value per head slaughtered set a new monthly record at $59.98, which was $15 higher than a year ago. For January through November, the percentage of total production exported equated to 27 percent, or 23 percent when including only muscle cuts. This compares to 23.7 percent and 19 percent for the same period in 2010. Export value for the year averaged $55.21 per head, compared to $43.72 per head a year ago.

U.S. pork continues to perform remarkably well in Japan, with November results up 6 percent in volume and 17 percent in value over a year ago. For January-November, exports to Japan totaled 451,509 metric tons, nearly matching the 2008 volume record of 451,853 metric tons. Export value reached $1.79 billion, easily setting a new record and setting the stage for a year-end value total that could threaten the $2 billion mark.

“USMEF has continued to market U.S. pork aggressively in Japan, because we know this it is a valuable and fiercely competitive market,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “When we first broke the $1 billion barrier in 2005, some speculated that this market may have peaked. They said so again in 2008, when exports hit $1.5 billion. To be approaching $2 billion is remarkable, and it shows just how vital Japan is to the bottom line of the U.S. industry.”

November exports were also bolstered by strong results in the China/Hong Kong region, which set another monthly record at 66,993 metric tons valued at $140.2 million. For the year, export volume to this region was up 68 percent to 428,683 metric tons and export value nearly doubled to $794.6 million.

Pork exports to South Korea continued to build on a record year, with November results up 62 percent in volume to 11,673 metric tons and more than double in value to $35.6 million. For the year, exports to Korea have soared by 126 percent in volume (172,791 metric tons) and 176 percent in value ($453.7 million).

Exports volume to Mexico was lower in November at 47,295 metric tons (down 12 percent) but value remained steady at $94.7 million. Despite volume for the year being down 3 percent to 477,221 metric tons, Mexico remains the leading volume destination for U.S. pork. Export value for the year ($925.3 million) was up 4 percent from 2010’s record pace, and by year’s end may break $1 billion for the first time.

November results pushed pork exports to Canada to new record totals in both volume (188,250 metric tons, up 14 percent) and value ($673.8 million, up 20 percent). Other markets that have topped their previous records in 2011 include Australia (58,631 metric tons valued at $187.8 million) and Central-South America (66,352 metric tons valued at $171.3 million).

Beef export value nearly $220 per head in November, more than $200 for 2011

November beef exports equated to 14 percent of total production when including variety meat, or 11 percent for muscle cuts only. This was consistent with the 2011 average but up significantly from the 2010 ratios of 11.7 percent for total production and 9 percent for muscle cuts. November exports equated to $219.73 per head of fed slaughter, up $41.50 from a year ago. For January-November, export value averaged $204.27 per head – more than $50 higher than the previous year’s average.

Beef exports to Canada posted another strong month, solidifying it as the leading value destination for 2011 and ensuring a $1 billion performance by year’s end. For January through November, exports to Canada totaled 174,122 metric tons (up 27 percent) valued at $940.5 million (up 43 percent).

Mexico is still the volume leader for U.S. beef exports, despite a slight slowdown in volume in November. Export volume in November was down 4 percent to 21,884 metric tons, but value still climbed 6 percent to $84.6 million (trailing only Japan). For the year, exports to Mexico were up 5 percent in volume to 234,888 metric tons and were 23 percent higher in value to $902.8 million.

Japan was the leading value destination for U.S. beef in November at $85.3 million, up nearly 40 percent from a year ago. Export volume was 18 percent higher at 14,312 metric tons. For the year, exports to Japan were up 29 percent in volume to 148,182 metric tons and 38 percent in value to $812.1 million.

November exports to South Korea, Hong Kong and the Middle East were all lower than a year ago, but all of these markets were still up solidly for the year. In fact, Hong Kong and the Middle East had already set new annual volume and value records in October.

Exports to Russia were also slightly lower in volume in November but more than 60 percent higher in value. Russia had already set a new annual value record in October which has now reached $243.6 million. Led by surging exports to Chile, the Central-South America region has also set new records this year for both volume (23,340 metric tons, up 50 percent) and value ($75 million, up 76 percent).

“There is much to be excited about this year with regard to U.S. beef exports,” Seng said. “Not only are we going to break $5 billion for the first time ever, we are gaining back valuable market share in Asia and taking exports to new heights in other regions across the globe. Demand for U.S. beef has never been greater, and this is generating a lot of momentum for 2012.”

Lamb exports set new value record

U.S. lamb export value reached $27.76 million through November, up 49 percent from a year ago and just edging the previous annual record of $27.75 million (set in 2006) with a month remaining in the year. Lamb exports had already topped their previous high in volume, but strong November results pushed export volume for the year to 16,958 metric tons (up 79 percent from a year ago). Strong performance in Mexico and Canada accounted for much of this growth, but results have also been solid in Central America, the Middle East and the southeastern Caribbean islands.

Complete 2011 export statistics through November are available online.