October pork exports largest since 2014

Pork exports continue to be a bright spot for the industry, as October showed the largest monthly volume since March 2014.

December 8, 2016

6 Min Read
October pork exports largest since 2014
Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation

U.S. pork and beef exports continued to build momentum in October, with both achieving double-digit increases from a year ago, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

October pork exports totaled 201,936 metric tons, up 14% year-over-year and the largest monthly volume since March 2014. Export value was $521.1 million, up 16%. For January through October, export volume was 6% above last year’s pace at 1.86 million mt, while export value was up 3% to $4.79 billion.

Exports accounted for 25.5% of total pork production in October and 21% for muscle cuts only. For January-October, exports accounted for 25% of total production — up a full percentage point from a year ago — and 21% for muscle cuts, up slightly. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $47 in October, up 8% year-over-year, while January-October export value averaged $49, steady with the same period last year.


October beef export volume was 105,938 mt, up 12% from a year ago, while export value climbed 10% to $559.5 million. For January through October, export volume was up 9% from a year ago at 954,868 mt, while value was down 3% to $5.1 billion. Beef muscle cut exports were especially strong in October at 75,903 mt — the largest volume in two years.

Beef exports accounted for 14% of total production in October and 11% for muscle cuts only. January-October ratios were just over 13% and 10%, respectively — up slightly from the same period last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $269.35 in October, up 5% year-over-year. Through the first 10 months of 2016, export value averaged $254.71 per head, down 8%.

“With pork production at a record level and beef production also on the rise, it is imperative that we work to expand global demand and accelerate the volume of product entering the international markets,” says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “With strong support from USDA, our U.S. industry partners and our international contacts, USMEF has intensified its marketing efforts in key destinations and capitalized on opportunities to regain market share – not only in mainstay markets such as Japan, Mexico and South Korea, but in a wide range of countries. This has laid the groundwork for a strong finish to this year and further growth in 2017.”

Led by Mexico, pork exports strengthen in Western Hemisphere markets

Pork exports to Mexico remained strong in October, increasing 9% from a year ago in volume (65,271 mt) and 6% in value ($115.2 million). For January through October, exports to Mexico pulled within 2% of last year’s record pace in volume (576,008 mt) and remained 1% higher in value ($1.05 billion). This strong performance has been especially supportive of prices for U.S. hams, the highest-volume export item to Mexico. Through October, in pesos, U.S. ham prices were 21% higher than a year ago while demand in Mexico remained strong. Ham prices strengthened further in November, and weekly export data showed even larger shipments to Mexico. To overcome the difficult exchange rate situation, the USMEF has emphasized the quality and consistency of U.S hams with Mexico’s meat processors and worked with these companies on new product development.

Pork exports to leading value market Japan were also strong in October, increasing 4% from a year ago in volume (30,987 mt) and 9% in value ($127.9 million). Through the first 10 months of the year, exports to Japan were 7% below last year’s pace in volume (320,491 mt) and 4% lower in value ($1.29 billion). Chilled pork exports to Japan remained on a record pace through October, totaling 180,793 mt, up 9% year-over-year.

Pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong continued to moderate in October, reflecting a rebound in China’s domestic pork production, but variety meat exports to the region remained strong. For January through October, total pork/pork variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong were up 66% from a year ago in volume (450,257 mt) and 55% higher in value ($878.8 million).

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

• After a slow first half of 2016, exports to Colombia continue to rebound. Though January-October exports were still down 13% year-over-year in volume (30,713 mt) and 20% in value ($70.6 million), October exports climbed 68% in volume (5,862 mt) and 77% in value ($14.6 million). October muscle cut exports to Colombia were the largest on record at 5,428 mt, up 58% from a year ago.

• Following a slowdown in September, pork exports to Central America rebounded strongly in October, especially in Honduras, Guatemala and Panama. January-October exports to Central America were up 18% from a year ago in volume (53,259 mt) and 12% in value ($126.9 million).

• Exports to the Dominican Republic were 9% above last year’s pace in volume (20,945 mt) and 4% higher in value ($45.8 million), including a 32% increase in October export value ($4.8 million).

• Although January-October exports to Korea remain well below last year’s large totals, demand has strengthened in recent months. Pork muscle cut exports to Korea reached 11,469 mt in October, the largest since March. Combined pork/pork variety meat exports were 12,121, up 11% from a year ago. October export value climbed 26% to $33.8 million.

Beef exports set new monthly record in Taiwan

October beef exports were highlighted by a record performance in Taiwan, where volume was up 90% from a year ago to 5,177 mt. This pushed January-October exports to Taiwan to 35,241 mt (up 20% year-over-year) valued at $284.9 million, up 7% and on track for a new record.

October exports were also outstanding to Japan, where volume soared 40% to 20,089 mt valued at $119.8 million (up 34%). January-October exports to Japan were up 21% in volume (213,636 mt) and 13% in value ($1.24 billion). Japan’s October imports of chilled U.S. beef exceeded chilled imports from Australia for the second consecutive month.

In Korea, October exports were 16,897 mt (up 63% year-over-year) valued at $98.8 million (up 68%). January-October exports to Korea were 139,592 mt valued at $814.2 million, up 36% and 21%, respectively, from a year ago. Export value to Korea is on pace to exceed the 2014 record of $847.4 million, and with a strong finish could approach the $1 billion mark in 2016.

Chilled beef exports to both Japan and Korea have excelled in 2016, with shipments to both markets up nearly 40% year-over-year. Through October, chilled exports were the largest on record to Korea and the largest to Japan since 2003.

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

• Despite the persistent weakness of the peso, beef exports to Mexico were up 8% from a year ago to 195,799 mt, though export value to Mexico has trended lower this year ($812.1 million, down 11%).

• While January-October exports to Hong Kong were lower year-over-year (86,943 mt, down 6%, valued at $525.2 million, down 18%), October exports were easily the largest of the year in both volume (11,998 mt) and value ($72.8 million).

• Fueled by strong growth in Indonesia and Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region increased 27% in volume (22,206 mt) and 3% in value ($119 million).

• Despite a decline to leading destination Egypt, beef liver exports increased 9% to 67,394. Larger volumes to Mexico and the addition of South Africa, a promising liver market that reopened earlier this year, offset lower shipments to Egypt, which takes about 75% of U.S. liver exports.

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