February Pork Exports Strong, Beef Values Stay Strong

The latest review of export numbers for pork and beef offer good news for the U.S. market.

Published on: Apr 16, 2012

U.S. pork exports are well ahead of 2011's record pace through February, while beef exports trended slightly lower in volume but posted solid results in terms of value, according to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Pork export volume, at more than 187 metric tons, was 9% higher than February 2011, while value ($526.2 million) was up 21%. For the first two months of the year, pork exports totaled 399,086 metric tons valued at $1.09 billion - increases of 18% and 31% respectively. This is the first time that U.S. pork export value has reached the $1 billion mark after only two months, USMEF reports.

GOOD NEWS: Pork exports rise and beef exports stay steady, but values up all around.
GOOD NEWS: Pork exports rise and beef exports stay steady, but values up all around.

February beef export volume - 82,131 metric tons - was 3% lower than a year ago but export value remained strong, increasing 10% to $409 million. Through the first two months of the year, beef exports totaled 176,585 metric tons, down 2%, valued at $825 million, up 12%.

"Export results were quite solid, especially considering the impact of market access issues in some destinations, particularly Taiwan and Southeast Asia," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "We continue to expand the presence of U.S. pork in all key destinations - especially in North Asia and in Western Hemisphere markets. In the beef complex, export volume may be struggling somewhat due to price, but we are having great success directing beef cuts to the markets that value them most. This is keeping beef export value very strong – well ahead of the record pace established last year."

A closer look at pork

February pork exports were about 27.7% of total production including both muscle and variety meat and 24% of muscle cuts alone.

Exports to Mexico, the largest volume market for U.S. pork, were lower than the record tonnage recorded in December and January, but still outpaced last February's results in both volume and value. For the year, exports to Mexico were up dramatically compared to the first two months of 2011 - increasing 20% in volume an 24% in value.

Japan is the value pacesetter for U.S. pork as February exports were steady in volume with last year, but still achieved an increase of 17% in value. Through February 2012 exports to Japan were 8% higher than a year ago.

Other pork export highlights for the first two months of 2012 include:

  • Exports to China/Hong Kong were 39 percent higher in volume (78,193 mt) and nearly doubled in value ($158.2 million, up 94 percent). February volume, however, was the smallest since June 2011.
  • Exports to Canada increased 36 percent in volume (36,484 mt) and 45 percent in value ($129.9 million).
  • While lower tariff rates prescribed in the Korea-U.S. FTA did not take effect until mid-March, exports to South Korea increased 11 percent in volume (36,399 mt) and 28 percent in value ($104 million).
  • Exports to Australia were one-third higher in both volume (12,423 mt) and value ($38.9 million).
  • Led by strong demand in Chile and Colombia, exports to the Central and South America region increased 18 percent in volume (13,091 mt) and 23 percent in value ($34.8 million).

Beef soldiers on

Beef exports were 12% of production including both muscle and variety meat and 9% for muscle cuts only. This compares to 12.9% and 10% respectively in February 2011. Export value equated to $208.05 per head of fed slaughter, up 14% from last year's $182.12.

Beef exports to Russia are expected to benefit from a higher muscle cut tariff rate quota in 2012, as the TRQ rose from 41,700 metric tons in 2011 to 60,000 metric tons this year. January-February exporst were up 58% in volume and tripled in value to $38.2 million. The pace was higher when looking at muscle cuts only, which rose 131% in volume and 238% in value.

Egypt led strong results for U.S. beef in the Middle East, with exports to the region rising 13% in volume and 19% in value. Volumes were lower for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, but both destinations still achieved increases in value.

Led by strong results in Chile, Peru and Guatemala, exports to the Central and South America region rose 63% in volume and 91% in value.

Other beef export highlights for the first two months of 2012 include:

  • Mexico was the leading destination in terms of both volume (38,070 mt) and value ($170.6 million). This represents a decrease in volume of 6 percent, but a 13 percent increase in value.
  • Exports to Canada, which was the only $1 billion market for U.S. beef in 2011, slipped 3 percent in volume (24,072 mt) but increased 11 percent in value ($136.9 million).
  • Exports to Japan, which are still limited to beef from cattle 20 months of age or younger, were down 5 percent in volume (19,344 mt) but increased 16 percent in value ($123.6 million).