Pork, Beef Exports Set New Annual Value Records with Two Months to Spare

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

October was another excellent month for U.S. pork and beef exports, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports set a new all-time monthly value record at $573.9 million (up 41 percent from last year), which pushed the cumulative value through October to a new annual record of $4.93 billion – breaking the previous high of $4.88 billion in 2008 – with two months to spare.

Beef export value for October was $452 million, pushing the 2011 total to a new annual record of $4.49 billion. This is 37 percent ahead of the then-record pace established in the first 10 months of 2010.

“Establishing new annual value records just 10 months into the year is an extraordinary accomplishment, and one that the U.S. pork and beef industries should be very proud of,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “Sustaining an aggressive export pace is critical for maintaining and creating American jobs and a positive balance of trade.”

October pork export volume second-highest ever, led by China, Japan, Canada

In addition to setting a new value record, pork export volume for October was also very strong at 200,725 metric tons – 24 percent higher than last year and the second-largest volume total ever. Through October, 2011 export volume is 17 percent ahead of last year’s pace at 1.8 million metric tons. October exports equated to 24 percent of pork muscle cut production and 27 percent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat. For January through October, these ratios were 23 percent and 27 percent, respectively, compared to 19 percent and 24 percent last year. October exports equated to $58.42 per hog slaughtered, bringing the 2011 total to $54.68. This compares to $42.26 in October 2010 and $43.72 for all of last year.

China was the largest volume market for U.S. pork in October at 48,678 metric tons, more than double the year-ago volume and setting another monthly record. Through October, exports to the China/Hong Kong region were up 60 percent to 361,690 metric tons, valued at $654.4 million (up 82 percent).

Strong October exports to Japan further solidified its position as the leading value market for U.S. pork. Through October, export volume to Japan reached 410,057 metric tons (up 14 percent over last year) valued at a remarkable $1.62 billion. This value total is 19 percent higher than last year’s pace and rapidly approaching a new all-time value record ($1.65 billion set in 2010).

Mexico is the top volume destination for U.S. pork, with October exports up slightly in volume over last year but 15 percent higher in value. This pushed the 2011 export totals to 429,926 metric tons (down 2 percent) valued at $830.6 million (up 4 percent). With a strong finish to the year, the all-time value record for Mexico ($986 million, set last year) could be within reach.

The volume and value records for Canada (in 2010, 183,068 metric tons valued at $618 million) are also likely to fall as strong October exports pushed its total to 168,828 metric tons valued $604.8 million – up 13 percent and 18 percent, respectively, from last year.

Exports to South Korea, which had already broken their previous records, remained strong in October reaching 161,118 metric tons (up 133 percent) valued at $418.1 million (up 182 percent). Exports to Korea have been bolstered this year by duty-free access for some imported pork cuts and a severe shortage of domestic product. Once the Korea-U.S. FTA is implemented, duties of 25 percent on the most commonly traded U.S. cuts will be reduced to 16 percent.

“The free trade agreement with South Korea, which should take effect in the first half of 2012, will expand our opportunities with this key trading partner,” said Seng. “It is important to keep in mind, however, that the business climate for imported pork in Korea has been exceptional this year due to FMD-related shortages and some degree of duty-free access. So the benefits of the FTA may not be reflected immediately, but will certainly help us over the long term.”

Another market topping its previous volume and value records was Australia, as 2011 exports reached 53,850 metric tons valued at $173 million – up 18 percent and 37 percent, respectively, over last year’s then-record pace.

Led by surging exports to Chile, the Central and South America region also topped last year’s record totals by reaching 58,050 metric tons (up 23 percent) valued at nearly $150 million (up 33 percent). The outlook for this region was also bolstered by ratification of the free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, which hold great promise for U.S. pork.

Beef exports soaring to nearly every region; per-head value exceeds $200

October beef export volume was 105,912 metric tons. This was 10 percent higher than October 2010 and pushed the 2011 volume total (1.073 million metric tons) 24 percent ahead of last year’s pace. October beef exports equated to 11 percent of beef muscle cut production and 13.9 percent of total production when including variety meat, which was consistent with the year-to-date ratio. This compares to 9 percent of beef muscle cut production and 11.7 percent of beef plus beef variety meat production exported last year. Exports equated to nearly $210 per head of fed slaughter in October, pushing the 2011 total to $202.82 per head. This is nearly $50 per head higher than last year’s average of $153.09.

Despite being down slightly in October, Mexico remains this year’s leading volume destination for U.S. beef at 213,004 metric tons (up 6 percent over the first 10 months of 2010). Mexico was the export value leader in October at $85.3 million, pushing the 2011 total 25 percent higher than last year at $818.2 million.

Canada held its position as the top value market for U.S. beef in the first 10 months of 2011 at $861.9 million (a new annual record), up 46 percent over the 2010 pace. Volume for the year is up nearly 30 percent to 159,396 metric tons, also a new record. October results were impressive, with a volume of 14,175 metric tons valued at just under $74 million.

Japan is the third-largest individual market in terms of both volume (133,870 metric tons) and value ($726.9 million). These totals exceed last year’s pace by 30 percent and 38 percent, respectively. October export volume was down slightly from last year at 12,631 metric tons, but value was 13 percent higher at $73.7 million.

Beef exports to South Korea maintained a very strong pace, pushing the 2011 volume to 129,810 metric tons (up 43 percent from last year) valued at nearly $575 million (up 36 percent).

“The continued rebuilding of consumer confidence in U.S. beef in both Japan and Korea is essential as these key markets recover sales volume and value that was lost in the post-BSE years,” said Seng. “The ‘We Care’ campaign in Japan and the ‘To Trust’ campaign in Korea have sown seeds that continue to yield positive results for the U.S. industry.”

Strong exports to Egypt helped push the Middle East to an impressive 2011 volume of 145,457 metric tons, valued at $287.7 million – increases of 39 percent and 44 percent, respectively, over last year’s pace and setting new annuals records for both volume and value.

Exports to Russia set a new value record at $222.3 million, which exceeds last year’s pace by 66 percent. Strong export performance in Russia has allowed the United States to already fill its 2011 tariff rate quota for beef muscle cuts of 41,700 metric tons.

Exports to the Central and South America region have also set new annual volume and value records of 21,418 metric tons valued at $66.3 million, led by strong growth to Chile, Peru and Guatemala.

Lamb exports top record volume, challenge 2006 value record

U.S. lamb exports were also very solid in October, with volume (1,487 metric tons) more than doubling last year’s total and value up 77 percent to $2.3 million. Export volume through the first 10 months of the year was a record 15,788 metric tons. Export value of $25.8 million has not yet topped the 2006 record total ($27.8 million), but is on pace to do so by year’s end. For the year, export volume is 79 percent higher than in 2010 while export value is up 48 percent. Strong performance in Mexico, Canada, the Middle East and the southeastern Caribbean islands accounted for much of this growth.

“Seeing all three species perform so well in the international marketplace is very gratifying,” Seng said. “It’s a testament to our continued commitment to meeting consumer demands in a very diverse range of global markets, and educating our customers about the positive attributes of U.S. pork, beef and lamb.”

Complete export statistics through October are available online.