Paced by sustained strong performances by the Japan and Hong Kong markets and a rebound in Mexico, U.S. beef exports in September remained ahead of 2012 levels while U.S. pork exports continue to face a number of challenges including access restrictions in Russia and a lingering downturn in the Japan market, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Powered by a 37% jump in the volume of beef exports to Japan, 65% to Mexico and 102% to Hong Kong, U.S. beef exports rose nearly 5% in September and are up 1% for the year. The value of those exports drove the value of U.S. beef exports up 14% for the month and they remain 10% ahead of the 2012 pace.
U.S. pork exports received a boost from sales to the China/Hong Kong region, as well as strong sales to the ASEAN region, but continued access restrictions to Russia and a very competitive market in Japan continued to keep pork exports down.
"On the beef side, the industry aggressively pursued the opportunities available for U.S. product when market access was expanded in Japan and Hong Kong, and we are seeing exciting growth in both those markets," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.
"On the pork side, we are continuing to face challenges from strong competition in Japan that is driving down our market share, and access issues with Russia continue to hamper our industry, both in pork and beef,"Seng noted.
In fact, the decline in pork exports to just Japan and Russia amount to nearly all of the drop-off in pork export volume this year and more than the total dip in export value – $246.7 million decline from the two markets versus $213 million overall.
For the month of September, the United States exported 94,698 metric tons of beef valued at $505.5 million, accounting for 13% of total beef production and 11% of muscle cuts. The export value per head of fed slaughter in September was $249, up from $227.65 a year ago.
Pork exports for the month totaled 166,650 metric tons valued at $478.7 million, accounting for 25% of total U.S. pork production and 21% of muscle cuts. The export value per head for the month averaged $53, down from $53.43 last year.
Top beef markets
Japan remains the top export market for U.S. beef in 2013. Exports to Japan are up 52% in volume and 35% in value for the year, accounting for 21.3% of the total volume of U.S. beef exports and 24.2% of the value.
The No. 2 volume market for U.S. beef, Mexico took larger volumes for four consecutive months, with September exports increasing nearly 65% in volume and 56% in value over year-ago levels. For the year, it is down just 1% in volume and even in value at $641.7 million.