Variety of pork cuts in a meat case signifying U.S. meat. National Pork Board

October another stellar month for U.S. pork

Pork exports rebound to Mexico, Japan; record month for South America.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation
U.S. pork exports remained ahead of last year’s record volume pace, and beef exports are poised to break $7 billion this year for only the second time, according to October export results released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

October pork exports were the largest since May, totaling 211,592 metric tons, up 5% from a year ago, valued at $565.4 million, up 8%. Through the first 10 months of the year, pork exports increased 8% in volume (2.005 million mt) and 10% in value ($5.28 billion) from the same period last year.

Exports accounted for 25.4% of total pork production in October (steady with last year) and 21.6% for muscle cuts only (up slightly from a year ago). For January through October, these ratios increased about one percentage point from a year ago to 26.4% of total production and 22% for muscle cuts. October export value averaged $51.41 per head slaughtered, up 9% from a year ago and the highest since July. Through the first 10 months of the year, per-head export value was $52.64, up 7%.

Beef exports reached 111,287 mt in October, up 5% from a year ago, valued at $662 million, up 18%. These were the second-largest monthly totals of 2017, trailing only August. For January through October, exports totaled 1.038 million mt, up 9% year-over-year, valued at $5.93 billion — up 16% from a year ago and slightly ahead of the record value pace established in 2014.

Beef exports accounted for 13% of total production in October, the highest since July but down from 13.9% last year. The percentage of muscle cuts exported was steady with last year at 10.7%. For January through October, beef exports accounted for 12.8% of total production (down from 13.3% last year) and 10.2% for muscle cuts (steady with last year).

October beef export value averaged $301.88 per head of fed slaughter, up 12% from a year ago and the highest since December 2016. January-October export value averaged $279.85 per head, up 10%.

Pork exports rebound to Mexico, Japan; record month for South America
Following a modest slowdown in September, pork exports to leading volume market Mexico regained momentum at 69,529 mt, up 7% from a year ago, valued at $129.8 million (up 13%). Through October, exports to Mexico are well-positioned for a sixth consecutive annual volume record at 655,527 mt (up 14%) valued at $1.24 billion (up 17%).

Mexico is an especially important destination for U.S. hams, and consumption growth in Mexico has been critically supportive of ham prices in this time of record U.S. pork production, explained USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom.

“Although ham prices are currently below last year’s level, they have been up an average of 2% in 2017 and predictions of ham prices plummeting have not come true," he says. “Strong demand in Mexico is absolutely a key reason for this. USMEF has focused on expanding per-capita pork consumption in Mexico, which is up by about one-third in the past 10 years. This has helped make Mexico an even more critical and more reliable trading partner for the U.S. pork industry.”

Exports to leading value market Japan also trended upward in October, increasing 5% from a year ago in both volume (32,475 mt) and value ($134.5 million). January-October exports to Japan were 322,422 mt (up 1%) valued at $1.33 billion (up 3%). This included 176,609 mt of chilled pork valued at $834 million, down 2% in volume but 2% higher in value than a year ago.

Led by Colombia and Chile, October pork exports to South America reached a record 12,624 mt (up 31% from a year ago) valued at $32.3 million (up 29%). Through October, exports to South America were 78% ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (85,175 mt) and value ($218.8 million), already surpassing the previous records set in 2014. Export volumes to Colombia and Chile have also exceeded previous highs reached in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Other January-October results for U.S. pork exports include:

• Having gained further momentum in October, exports to South Korea have already exceeded their full-year 2016 totals in both volume (136,041 mt) and value ($372.7 million). Compared to the first 10 months of last year, exports were up 27% and 30%, respectively.

• Led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala, exports to Central America are on a record pace, totaling 56,906 mt (up 7% year-over-year) valued at $138.4 million (up 9%). Exports also increased substantially to El Salvador and Nicaragua and edged slightly higher to Costa Rica.

• Exports are also on a record pace to the Dominican Republic — up 26% year-over-year in volume (26,476 mt) and 32% in value ($60.6 million).

• Despite trending lower in October, pork exports to the ASEAN region were still 16% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (39,910 mt) and 31% higher in value ($109.2 million), led by strong performances in the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

• October exports to China/Hong Kong were below last year’s volume but steady in value, reflecting the upward trajectory of China’s domestic pork production. Through October, exports to the region dropped 8% from a year ago in volume (413,032 mt) but were just 1% lower in value ($872.8 million) as continued strong demand for variety meat largely offset the slowdown in muscle cut exports.

Japan, Korea, Hong Kong drive outstanding beef export value growth
Japan continued to be the pacesetter for U.S. beef exports in October, with volume climbing 19% from a year ago to 23,981 mt and value up 23% to $147.1 million. This pushed January-October volume to 260,517 mt (up 22%) valued at $1.59 billion — up 29% and already setting a new single-year record. Chilled beef continues to drive export growth to Japan, with chilled exports up 40% in volume (124,699 mt) and 43% in value ($918.8 million)

“The U.S. beef industry has really broadened its reach in Japan, expanding the range of cuts offered and the retail and foodservice venues in which they are featured,” Halstrom says. “But USMEF remains concerned about market access barriers in Japan, as we face significantly higher tariffs than our main competitor, Australia, and import safeguards that could hinder further growth.”

Exports to South Korea continued to climb in October, up 2% in volume (17,224 mt) and 24% in value ($122.4 million) from a year ago. Through October, exports totaled 148,998 mt (up 7%) valued at $979.3 million — 20% above last year’s record pace. Demand for U.S. chilled beef is especially strong in Korea’s retail sector, with chilled beef exports up 88% to 36,773 mt valued at $329 million, up 93%.

Other January-October highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

• Despite a slow start in 2017, exports to Hong Kong climbed 12% from a year ago in volume (97,334 mt) and 23% higher in value ($646.1 million). Since the mid-June market reopening, exports to China have totaled 1,570 mt valued at $17.2 million.

• While beef exports to Taiwan slowed in October, January-October results remained 4% ahead of last year’s pace at 36,719 mt, valued at $335.6 million (up 18%). With a strong finish, Taiwan will easily top last year’s value record of $362.8 million.

• Led by strong increases in Indonesia and Vietnam, beef exports to the ASEAN region increased 57% in volume (34,777 mt) and 46% in value ($173.5 million). Exports were also higher year-over-year to the Philippines.

• A bounce-back year in Peru and strong demand in Chile and Colombia have beef exports to South America on a record pace. Exports increased 27% from a year ago in volume (24,236 mt) and 23% in value ($93.3 million).

• Beef exports within North America have remained solid in 2017, with shipments to Mexico increasing slightly from last year in both volume (196,604 mt) and value ($813.3 million). Exports to Canada increased 4% in volume (96,401 mt) and 7% in value ($667 million).

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