Paced by sustained strong performances by the Japan and Hong Kong markets and a rebound in Mexico, U.S. beef exports in September remained ahead of 2012 levels.
U.S. pork exports continue to face a number of challenges including access restrictions in Russia and a lingering downturn in the Japan market, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Powered by a 37 percent jump in the volume of beef exports to Japan, 65 percent to Mexico and 102 percent to Hong Kong, U.S. beef exports rose nearly five percent in September and are up one percent for the year.
The value of those exports — up nearly 16 percent to Japan, 56 percent to Mexico, 182 percent to Hong Kong and more than 41 percent to South Korea — drove the value of U.S. beef exports up 14 percent for the month and they remain 10 percent ahead of the 2012 pace that set a record of $5.51 billion.
U.S. pork exports received a boost from sales to the China/Hong Kong region — up 14 percent in volume and 24 percent in value for the month — as well as strong sales to the ASEAN region (up 45 percent in volume and nearly 47 percent in value), but continued access restrictions to Russia and a very competitive market in Japan continued to keep pork exports down five percent in value and more than nine percent in volume for the month and five percent in both categories for the year.
"On the beef side, the industry aggressively pursued the opportunities available for U.S. product when market access was expanded in Japan and Hong Kong, and we are seeing exciting growth in both those markets," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. "On the pork side, we are continuing to face challenges from strong competition in Japan that is driving down our market share, and access issues with Russia continue to hamper our industry, both in pork and beef."
In fact, the decline in pork exports to just Japan and Russia amount to nearly all of the drop-off in pork export volume this year (81,874 metric tons of a total 85,705 metric ton decline) and more than the total dip in export value ($246.7 million decline from the two markets versus $213 million overall).
For the month of September, the United States exported 94,698 metric tons of beef valued at $505.5 million, accounting for 13 percent of total beef production and 11 percent of muscle cuts (versus 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, last September). The export value per head of fed slaughter in September was $249, up from $227.65 a year ago.
Pork exports for the month totaled 166,650 metric tons valued at $478.7 million, accounting for 25 percent of total U.S. pork production and 21 percent of muscle cuts (versus 26.7 percent and 23 percent, respectively, last September). The export value per head for the month averaged $53, down from $53.43 last year.
Japan remains the top export market for U.S. beef in 2013. Exports to Japan are up 52 percent in volume (183,942 metric tons) and 35 percent in value ($1.1 billion) for the year, accounting for 21.3 percent of the total volume of U.S. beef exports and 24.2 percent of the value.
The No. 2 volume market for U.S. beef, Mexico took larger volumes for four consecutive months, with September exports increasing nearly 65 percent in volume (18,990 metric tons) and 56 percent in value ($82 million) over year-ago levels. For the year, it is down just one percent in volume (149,887 metric tons) and even in value at $641.7 million.
Canada remains a strong market for U.S. beef, second in value and third in volume for the year at 133,776 metric tons (up six percent) valued at $912.9 million (up 10 percent).
Other key beef export markets for 2013 include:
✔ Hong Kong: up 96 percent in volume (84,473 metric tons) and 137 percent in value ($530.9 million)
✔ South Korea: down 19 percent in volume (75,962 metric tons) and two percent in value ($419 million)
✔ Middle East: down three percent in volume (111,895 metric tons) and 18 percent in value ($211.8 million) for the year, with the decline coming in the competitive Egyptian muscle cut market
✔ Central/South America: up 24 percent in volume (32,549 metric tons) and 15 percent in value ($113.7 million) led by strong growth to Peru, Chile and Colombia
✔ Taiwan: up 135 percent in volume (23,404 metric tons) and 195 percent in value ($185.7 million)
Mexico remains the top volume market for U.S. pork in 2013, with volume up one percent to 446,827 metric tons valued at $849.8 million, a four percent increase. Japan is the No. 1 value market at $1.4 billion, a six percent decline year-over-year, while volume is down eight percent to 317,710 metric tons.
Boosted by a strong September, exports to China/Hong Kong were even in volume (313,379 metric tons) and up six percent in value ($670.4 million).
Other key pork export markets for 2013 include:
✔ Canada: down one percent in volume (171,091 metric tons) but up one percent in value ($637.5 million)
✔ Central/South America: up 32 percent in volume (79,880 metric tons) and 29 percent in value ($199.4 million) led by strong growth to Colombia, Honduras and Chile
✔ South Korea: down 33 percent in volume (70,776 metric tons) and 36 percent in value ($194.9 million)
✔ ASEAN: up 44 percent in volume (50,456 metric tons) and 39 percent in value ($121.6 million) led by strong growth to the Philippines and Singapore
Lamb exports remained mixed, off three percent in volume for the year (9,720 metric tons) but up 10 percent in value ($21.5 million). For September, two of the top three markets (Mexico and Canada) declined in double digits while the Caribbean was up in double digits. During the month, total lamb exports were 764 metric tons (down over 42 percent) valued at $1.9 million (down more than 17 percent).
Complete export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available online.