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.
Double-digit increases to the top three markets (Japan, Mexico and Canada) helped U.S. beef exports jump 9% in volume in July to 118,913 metric tons valued at $622.8 million, a 21% increase over last year. For the year, beef exports are up a fraction in volume (661,473 metric tons) and 9% 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% 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% 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% from last year's record pace.
Lamb exports dipped a modest 3.2% in July on 15.7% 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% in volume and 43% in value (142,875 metric tons valued at $855.8 million)
• Hong Kong: up 102% in volume and 128% in value (60,159 metric tons valued at $368.4 million)
• Taiwan: up 158% in volume and 222% in value (17,434 metric tons valued at $139.6 million)
Other top-performing markets for beef exports include Mexico and Central/South America.
Rebounding from a slow start earlier in the year (down 9% in volume and value for the year to 110,689 metric tons valued at $470.9 million), July exports to Mexico rose 16% in volume and 26% in value (21,309 metric tons valued at $91 million)
Exports to Central/South America were up 103% in volume (6,636 metric tons) and 41% in value ($17.1 million) in July; up 27% in volume and 16% in value for the year (25,963 metric tons valued at $88 million).
U.S. beef exports in July accounted for 12% of muscle cut and 15% of beef and variety meat production versus 11 and 14% 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% volume and 7.5% 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% so far this year."
Year-to-date, Japan's total pork imports from all sources are down 3% to 548,608 metric tons, but imports from the U.S. are down 7% (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% in volume (55,567 metric tons) and 29% in value ($114.3 million) in July, and up 2% in volume (346,368 metric tons) and 3% in value ($645 million) over the record pace of 2012
• Central/South America: up 49% in volume (9,437 metric tons) and 48% in value ($23 million) in July, and up 36% in volume (62,774 metric tons) and 34% in value ($156.3 million) for the year
• ASEAN: up 60% in volume (6,407 metric tons) and 53.8% in value ($14.4 million) in July, and up 44% in volume (38,079 metric tons) and 36% in value ($91.6 million) for the year
U.S. pork exports in July accounted for 22% of muscle cut and 27% of pork and variety meat production, similar to last year (23 and 26.5% 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% in value on 16% lower volumes, totaling 914 metric tons valued at $2.1 million. For the year, exports are up 12% in volume (8,177 metric tons) valued at $17.7 million, a 21% increase. Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean remain the top three export destinations.