U.S. Pork Exports Dip Slightly; Lamb Rebounds

Overall, pork exports continue to top 2011's record pace

Published on: Jan 15, 2013

U.S. pork exports for the first 11 months of 2012 continued to exceed the record-setting pace of 2011 and the value of lamb exports in November bounced back from an otherwise slow year, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

With only one month yet to be recorded for 2012, pork exports continue to top 2011 levels by 2% in volume (2,075,974 mt) and 5% in value ($5.8 billion), while totals for November declined 7.7% in volume and 5.4% in value versus last year. It is important to note, however, that November 2011 ranks as the second-best month in history (behind October 2012) for U.S. pork exports.

Mexico continues to perform as the United States' top pork volume destination, with November's totals up 7.2% in volume and 4.6% in value, pushing the 11-month totals to 550,408 mt (up 15%) valued at just over $1 billion (up 11%).

Overall, pork exports continue to top 2011s record pace
Overall, pork exports continue to top 2011's record pace

Although exports to Japan are trailing 2011 volume, they could still eclipse the $2 billion mark this year, with value up 3% through November and volume down 6%.

Other top pork markets in November were Canada (up 15.3% in volume and 17.1% in value), South Korea (up 26.4% in volume and 8.5% in value), Russia (up 100% in volume and 78.7% in value), and Central/South America (up 21.1% in volume and 10% in value).

Pork exports to Taiwan, however, continue to be affected by Taiwanese restrictions on products with ractopamine residues.

"There is no question that rising production costs and slowing economic growth have kept buyers on the sidelines or moved them toward less expensive options," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. He noted that higher domestic meat production in certain markets (such as Korea, Japan and China) also have affected exports this year. Market access issues – such as Indonesia's tighter import quotas aimed at boosting domestic production and Saudi Arabia's closure due to BSE – have also impacted exports.

"While volumes are lower, the quality and reputation of U.S. red meat products have helped support higher values, and that is not a statement that most of our competitors in the international marketplace can make," he said.

Year-to-date, U.S. pork exports account for 27% of total production (23.5% for just muscle cuts) and the per-head export value is $56.12 – up 3% from last year. Beef exports account for 12.6% of total production (9.8% for just muscle cuts) with a per-head value of $214.64, up 5% from last year.

The value of exports was the positive news for the U.S. lamb industry in November. The volume of American lamb sales internationally has been down throughout the year: declining 27% for the first 11 months and 22.3% in November. While the value of those exports also has been down for the year (-13%), it jumped 12.4% in November on the strength of strong sales to the top lamb export market, Mexico.

Complete export results are available online.