Steady pork exports to Mexico in August; China/Hong Kong rebounds

August pork exports increased from the previous month but were down slightly year-over-year.

October 7, 2017

7 Min Read
Steady pork exports to Mexico in August; China/Hong Kong rebounds
National Pork Board

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation
U.S. beef exports posted another outstanding performance in August, remaining well above last year’s pace, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. August pork exports increased from the previous month, but were down slightly year-over-year.

August beef exports totaled 112,069 metric tons, up 5% from a year ago and the largest of 2017. Export value was the second-highest on record at $679.1 million — up 20% from a year ago and trailing only the record-high value ($688.8 million) reached in October 2014. For January through August, beef exports increased 10% in volume (823,433 mt) and 16% in value ($4.65 billion) compared to the first eight months of 2016.

Exports accounted for 12.5% of total U.S. beef production in August, and 10.4% for muscle cuts only, compared to 13.7% and 10.3%, respectively, last year. For January through August, beef exports accounted for 12.8% of total production (down from 13.2%) and 10.1% (steady with last year) for muscle cuts. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $290.05 in August, up 13% from a year ago. Through August, the per-head export value was up 9% to $275.81.

Pork exports totaled 183,658 mt in August, down 2% year-over-year, valued at $511.4 million, down 0.3%. January-August volume remained 9% above last year’s record pace at 1.61 million mt, while export value increased 11% to $4.21 billion.

Exports accounted for 23.1% of total pork production in August (down from 24.1% a year ago), and 19.2% for muscle cuts only (down from 20%). For the first eight months of the year, the percentage of total production exported was 26.9% (up from 25.4% last year). For pork muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 22.4% (up from 21.3%). Export value per head slaughtered trended lower in August at $47.98, down 3% from a year ago, but the January-August average was still up 8% to $53.28.

“As we head into the final quarter, 2017 is shaping up as a very solid year for red meat exports but one in which the U.S. industry still faces significant challenges,” says USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “We have new pork plants coming on line and strong cattle-on-feed numbers, which sends a positive signal to our international customers about product availability. But the international markets are increasingly competitive, so we must continue to aggressively pursue new opportunities for U.S. red meat products in both our traditional mainstay destinations and in emerging markets.”

Steady pork exports
Pork exports to Mexico remained on pace for a sixth consecutive volume record in August, with volume up slightly from a year ago to 65,037 mt. Export value also increased slightly to $129.6 million. Through August, exports increased 18% in volume (522,227 mt) and 22% in value ($984.1 million).

Exports to Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, declined in August as volume dipped 9% to 31,863 mt and value was down 7% to $140 million. Through August, exports to Japan remained modestly higher year-over-year in both volume (260,352 mt, up 1%) and value ($1.07 billion, up 4%). August chilled pork exports to Japan were the largest since March, though January-August volume (142,927 mt) was still down 3% from last year’s record pace. Chilled export value through August was $674.2 million, up 3% from a year ago. The United States competes primarily with Canadian pork in Japan’s high-value chilled pork market.

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

• While August exports slowed year-over-year, U.S. pork continues to capitalize on strong red meat consumption growth in South Korea. January-August pork exports to Korea climbed 27% in volume (111,271 mt) and 32% in value ($305 million). Korea is an especially strong destination for pork used in further processing, but the market is highly competitive with the United States, Chile and the European Union shipping pork to Korea duty-free under their respective free trade agreements. Canadian pork also enjoys reduced duties under a free trade agreement with Korea.
• In the China/Hong Kong region, August export volume was lower than a year ago but rebounded compared to the previous month. August exports were 34,616 mt (down 8% year-over-year but up 8% from July). Export value was $78.3 million, up 1% year-over-year and 14% above July). January-August exports to the region were 8% below last year’s pace in volume (341,080 mt) but down only 1% in value ($705.5 million).
• Led by strong growth in Colombia, Chile and Peru, pork exports to South America remain a record pace with a near-doubling of export volume (63,922 mt, up 96%) and value doubling to $164.8 million.
• Despite slowing modestly year-over-year in August, pork exports to Central America are also on a record pace. Led by mainstay market Honduras, export volume reached 43,917 mt, up 5% from a year ago, valued at $105.7 million (up 7%).
• Strong growth in the Philippines and Singapore fueled a 22% increase (to 30,284 mt) in pork exports to the ASEAN region, valued at $78.4 million (up 33%).

Beef exports to Japan largest of post-BSE era; strong rebound continues in Hong Kong
August beef exports to leading market Japan totaled 31,001 mt, up 22% from a year ago and the largest of the post-bovine spongiform encephalopathy era. Export value to Japan increased 35% and broke the $200 million mark ($200.05 million) for the first time since May 1996. For January through August, exports to Japan were up 23% in volume (209,502 mt) and 30% in value ($1.28 billion). Japan’s frozen beef safeguard was triggered in late July, increasing the duty on frozen beef imports from suppliers without a trade agreement with Japan, including the United States, from 38.5% to 50%. The true impact of the higher duty rate will be revealed over the next few months, but August demand was not significantly affected. Frozen exports were 9,991 mt, up 15% from a year ago and just 2% below July. Chilled shipments accelerated at a faster rate (16,732 mt, up 62% year-over-year and up 27% from July), but this was already the trend prior to the duty rate increase on frozen beef.

Similar to July, beef exports to South Korea dipped slightly from a year ago in volume (17,188 mt, down 2%) but were still the largest of 2017, while August value increased 19% to $116.9 million. Through August, exports to Korea increased 8% in volume (116,132 mt) and 19% in value ($746.3 million) These totals included an impressive 88% increase in chilled beef exports (to 27,378 mt) valued at $243.8 million (up 94%).

After a slow start to the year, exports to Hong Kong continued to climb in August, with volume up 26% year-over-year to 9,250 mt and value increasing 41% to $67.7 million. January-August exports increased 14% in volume (74,629 mt) and were 24% higher in value ($485.5 million). Since the mid-June market opening, beef exports to China totaled 473 mt valued at just under $6 million.

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

• Despite trending lower in August, beef exports to Taiwan increased 10% from a year ago in volume (28,524 mt) and 20% in value ($256.4 million). This included chilled beef exports of 11,854 mt (up 17%) valued at $140 million (up 22%). U.S. beef holds more than 70% of Taiwan’s chilled beef market, the highest of any Asian destination.
• Led by Chile, Peru and Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 21% year-over-year in volume (18,799 mt) and 22% in value ($74.5 million).
Growing demand for U.S. beef in the ASEAN region’s foodservice and retail sectors helped push exports up 74% year-over-year in volume (26,359 mt), with a value up 55% to $130.1 million. Exports to Indonesia and Vietnam were double last year’s level, while strong growth was also achieved in the Philippines, the region’s largest market for U.S. beef.
• Exports to Canada saw a strong increase in August, pushing January-August volume up 3% in volume (77,727 mt) and value up 6% to $543.7 million.
• South Africa continued to gain momentum as a strong market for U.S. beef variety meat, maintaining its position as the fourth-largest volume destination for these items. January-August variety meat exports totaled 9,910 mt, up 249% from a year ago.

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