U.S. pork exports in September were steady with last year's volume, while beef exports were well below a year ago. Despite sluggish volumes, however, the value of both pork and beef exports through the third quarter of 2012 remains ahead of last year's record-setting pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
"We are definitely in a challenging economic environment, which is making it difficult to match last year's export volumes," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "But our products continue to command an excellent price in the international markets and provide substantial returns to U.S. producers, which is critically important at a time when they face extremely high production costs."
September pork exports reached 183,853 metric tons (mt), slightly exceeding last year's total. Though export value declined 6% compared to last year to $505 million, it was about 2% higher than the August value of $495.5 million.
For January through September, pork exports were up 2% in volume at 1.657 million metric tons and up 6% in value to $4.6 billion. Exports equated to 23.6% of muscle cut production and 27% when including both muscle cuts and variety meat (compared to last year's ratios of 22.8% and 27%). Export value equated to $56.16 per head slaughtered, 4.5% above the per-head average established during the same period last year.
With fewer production days this year, September beef production declined 9% and exports fell 17% in volume to 90,538 mt. September export value dropped 4% to $442.8 million, but was significantly higher on a per-head-of-fed-slaughter basis – increasing 7% to $227.65.