U.S. pork exports in July were slightly lower than a year ago, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said higher operating costs are challenging the pork sector.
"On the pork side, an increase in U.S. production has been offset by larger exports, helping drive the pork cutout to its peak in late June. With these factors in mind, it is absolutely critical that we remain aggressive with our international promotions and continue to capture the highest return possible on the products we export," Seng said.
July pork exports totaled 164,720 metric tons, down nearly 3% from a year ago and the smallest volume since October 2010. Pork export value was also down less than 3% to $467.4 million. Despite these lower results, year-to-date exports through July remained very strong – 4% above last year's record pace in volume (1.3 million mt) and 11% higher in value ($3.63 billion).
Pork export value per head slaughtered in July was $56.04, down from $58.84 a year ago. But for January through July, export value per head was about 8% higher than last year at $57.56. Exports equated to 23% of July production for muscle cuts and 26.5% when including variety meat. For January through July, these ratios were 24% and 27.5%, respectively.
Mexico (340,091 mt, +13%), China/Hong (252,187 mt, +20%), Canada (129,730 mt, +14%) and Russia (58,572 mt, +43%) continued to drive pork export volume through the first seven months of 2012. Among these key markets, only China/Hong Kong recorded a lower year-over-year volume in July. January-July export value was also substantially higher in each of these markets: Mexico ($625.7 million, +12%), China/Hong ($508.9 million, +55%), Canada ($473.5 million, +19%) and Russia ($168.4 million, +38%).
Export volume for Japan was 6% lower in July and down 7% for the year, but Japan is still 6% ahead of last year's record value pace ($1.17 billion). After slipping in June, export value to Japan rebounded to $157.2 million in July – roughly equal to a year ago.
Year-over year exports to South Korea continued to be down about one-third in volume through July (91,640 mt) and about one-fourth lower in value ($261.6 million). However, this is due to the surge in exports in 2011 resulting from a major shortage of domestic pork. This year's exports to Korea were still up 64% in volume and 120% in value when compared to January-July 2010.
Lamb exports continue to struggle
U.S. lamb exports continued to battle a tough economic environment through July, with year-over-year exports falling by 36% in volume (7,299 metric tons) and 21% in value ($14.7 million). Export volume was down across the globe, though increases in value were achieved in Canada ($2.5 million, +24%) and Panama ($128,000, +103%). USMEF continues to work with U.S. trade officials on regaining access for U.S. lamb in critical destinations such as Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Korea and the European Union.
Complete data is available here.