U.S. pork exports improve in September; beef exports struggle

U.S. pork exports showed modest improvement in September while beef exports endured the most difficult month in some time, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

September pork export volume was up 6% from a year ago to 172,012 metric tons. Export value was $456.1 million, down 11% year-over-year but the highest since May. Pork exports through the first nine months of the year declined 4% in volume (1.58 million mt) and 17% in value ($4.21 billion) compared to January to September 2014.

Beef export volume fell 21% from a year ago in September to 79,474 metric tons and value was down 28% to $456.6 million – the lowest since January. For the first nine months of 2015, exports were down 12% in volume (782,705 mt) and 8% in value ($4.8 billion).

September pork volume strong to Mexico, other Western Hemisphere markets

Pork export value per head slaughtered was $46.90 in September, down $11.21 from last year. For January through September, per head value was down $15 to $49.45. January-to-September exports accounted for just over 24% of total pork production and nearly 21% for muscle cuts only – down from 27% and 23%, respectively, during the first nine months of 2014.

Exports to Mexico, the leading volume destination for U.S. pork, fell slightly in volume in September but climbed 5% through the first nine months of the year to 529,798 mt, while export value fell 20% to $932.6 million.

Other pork export highlights include:

  • September exports to Canada were the largest of 2015, though January-September volume was still down 5% to 148,669 mt and value was 13% lower at $589.9 million.
  • Central/South America took 89,712 mt through September, up 4% from a year ago, as growth to Honduras and Chile offset smaller volumes to Colombia. Export value to the region fell 6% to $226.1 million.
  • January-September exports to South Korea were up 34% in volume (129,314 mt) and 23% in value ($373.8 million), though the market cooled in September, falling below last year’s monthly volumes for the first time in 2015.
  • Japan remains the leading value market for U.S. pork, despite January-September value declining 18% year-over-year to $1.23 billion. Export volume to Japan was down 12% to 314,760 mt.

Few bright spots for September beef exports

Beef export value in September equated to $233.80 per head of fed slaughter – down nearly $80 from a year ago. For January through September, per-head value was $280.46 – down $6.36 from the same period last year. Exports equated to 13% of total beef production and 10% for muscle cuts only – both down 1 percentage point from the first nine months of last year.

September exports to leading market Japan fell 34% in volume (15,386 mt) and 36% in value ($99.7 million) from a year ago. For the first nine months of the year, exports to Japan were down 12% in volume (161,961 mt) and 14% in value (just over $1 billion).

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