Exports of U.S. beef moved 3% higher in volume in May, while pork exports dipped 3% in volume, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
The tallies would be a bit better had Russia not implemented its barrier on meat trade, USMEF said.
If Russia is excluded, beef export volume for May increased 12% and export volume for the first five months of 2013 rose 3.5%, instead of falling 3%.
Similarly, May pork exports increased 3.5% in volume over last year's totals. For January through May 2013, export volume would be down 5.8% instead of 9% if Russia is not included.
"The loss of a key market like Russia ripples through the red meat industry," said U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Philip Seng. "The absence of one of the largest meat purchasers in the world affects the volume of product sold and, more importantly, the price that other customers need to pay for it in a competitive marketplace."
In May, total U.S. beef (muscle cut and variety meat) exports rose 3% over last year's levels to 97,820 metric tons valued at $513.6 million, a 9% increase.
Markets where access for U.S. beef has improved this year led the way in May. Japan jumped 74%, just 8% shy of totals posted in May 2003. Beef exports also rose56% to Hong Kong, and were steady to higher for Canada, Egypt, Central/South America and the Carribean.
"We were confident that the market for U.S. beef in Japan would rebound when our access expanded," said Seng. "Our team in Japan is working aggressively to explore untapped niches to maintain the growth momentum for beef."