September was another solid month for U.S. red meat exports, with pork and beef totals well above year-ago levels, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
“Red meat exports continued to build positive momentum in September, and it couldn’t come at a better time,” says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “We have large supplies of pork and beef hitting the market and moving these higher volumes is certainly a challenge. But this is also presenting expanded opportunities in the international markets, as we are able to introduce new cuts and value-added products, and recapture market share from our key competitors.”
Seng notes that while the upward trend in export volume is encouraging, it is also critical that exports contribute to carcass value and deliver returns for the entire supply chain. For example, per-unit values for pork exports have trended higher since June, and chilled beef exports to Asia are performing exceptionally well this year.
Strong momentum continues for pork exports to Mexico
September pork export volume was 183,936 metric tons — also down slightly from August but up 7% from a year ago. For January through September, export volume was 5% above last year’s pace at 1.66 million mt. September export value was up 8% from a year ago to $491 million, while January-September export value was $4.27 billion, up 1% from the same period last year.
Exports accounted for 24% of total pork production in September and 20% for muscle cuts only. January-September ratios were 25% and 21%, up slightly from last year, mainly reflecting growth in variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $48.29 in September, up 3% year-over-year. January-September export value was down slightly, averaging $49.24.
After a somewhat slow first half of the year, pork exports to Mexico moved higher in August and continued to climb in September — posting the second-largest monthly volume on record (66,567 mt, up 14% from a year ago). September value to Mexico was $131.4 million, up 25% from a year ago and the highest since December 2014. For January through September, exports to Mexico pulled within 4% of last year’s record pace in volume (510,737 mt) and moved 1% higher in value ($939.7 million). The USMEF’s efforts to bolster pork demand in Mexico continue to pay dividends, as per capita pork consumption has increased nearly 20% since 2011 and now exceeds 40 pounds per year.
Another positive factor for pork exports to Mexico has been the slowdown in shipments to China/Hong Kong, where the product mix tends to be similar. While still well above last year, September exports to China/Hong Kong (36,184 mt, up 26%) were down significantly from the May peak of 58,000 mt, reflecting a rebound in China’s domestic pork production. For January through September, exports to China/Hong Kong were up 70% from a year ago in volume (406,422 mt) and 57% higher in value ($787.3 million).
Other January-September highlights for U.S. pork exports include:
♦ While pork exports to Japan were below last year’s pace in both volume (289,594 mt, down 8%) and value ($1.16 billion, down 5%), higher-value chilled exports remain on a record pace — climbing 10% from a year ago to 164,087 mt. During periods of large U.S. production, chilled exports to Japan provide an especially important outlet for loins and butts.
♦ A rebound in Korea’s pork production led to a slow start for U.S. exports in 2016, but exports to Korea are poised for a strong finish as September results moved higher year-over-year for the second consecutive month. Compared to last year’s large totals, January-September exports to Korea were down 27% in volume (94,774 mt) and 33% in value ($252.1 million).
♦ Exports to Colombia have slowed in 2016 (24,851 mt, down 22%, valued at $56 million, down 30%) due to a spike in domestic pork production and other headwinds, including the weak Colombian peso. But exports to Colombia rebounded in September, climbing 35% in volume (3,456 mt) and 29% in value ($8.2 million).
♦ Pork exports to Central America cooled in September but remain well above last year’s pace in 2016, totaling 46,426 mt (up 16%) valued at $110 million (up 11%). Exports were higher year-over-year in mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala and more than doubled to Nicaragua, as every Central American market except Belize is currently a top 20 volume destination for U.S. pork.
September beef exports reach new milestones in Japan, Korea
September beef export volume was 101,224 mt — down slightly from August, but 27% above last September. Third-quarter volume was 307,383 mt, the largest since the fourth quarter of 2014. For January through September, export volume was 8% above last year’s pace at 848,930 mt. September export value was up 17% from a year ago to $533.3 million. For the first three quarters of 2016, export value was $4.54 billion, down 5% from a year ago.
Beef exports accounted for 13.5% of total beef production in September and 10% for muscle cuts only. January-September ratios were also 13.5% and 10%, up slightly from a year ago. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $256.98 in September, the first year-over-year increase (up 10%) of 2016. Through September, export value averaged $253 per head, down 10% from last year.
September beef exports were led by tremendous year-over-year growth in Japan (22,882 mt, up 49% year-over-year) and South Korea (14,840 mt, up 75%). Export value in these markets also surged, up 32% in Japan ($132.1 million) and 83% in Korea ($86.6 million). Japan’s imports of U.S. chilled beef surpassed chilled imports from Australia for the first time ever in September, and based on preliminary October data Korea’s total beef imports from the United States also topped Australian beef. For January through September, U.S. beef exports to Japan were up 20% in volume to 193,457 mt and increased 11% in value to $1.12 billion. Exports to Korea were up 33% in volume (122,695 mt) and reached $715.5 million in value — up 17% from a year ago and on pace to exceed the 2014 full-year record of $847.4 million.
Other January-September highlights for U.S. beef exports include:
♦ Strong September results pushed exports to Taiwan 12% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (30,064 mt) and up 2% in value ($245.6 million). The U.S. holds two-thirds of the chilled beef market in Taiwan, the highest share of any Asian market.
♦ Despite a persistently weak peso, beef exports to Mexico were up 8% from a year ago to 174,667 mt, including a 10% increase in muscle cuts (90,724 mt). Export value to Mexico has trended lower this year, down 9% for total exports ($732.5 million) and 10% for muscle cuts ($538 million).
♦ While January-September exports to Hong Kong were lower in both volume (74,945 mt, down 5%) and value ($452.5 million, down 20%), September was the second consecutive month of solid year-over-year growth. September exports totaled 9,715 mt (up 19%) valued at ($59.5 million, up 17%).
♦ Fueled by strong growth in Indonesia and Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region increased 18% to 17,797 mt, though value fell 5% to $97.4 million. Exports to Indonesia are well-positioned for a strong finish in 2016 following the recent easing of import restrictions in an effort to address the tight beef supply situation.