U.S. red meat exports start 2014 on positive note

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Photo: Paul-Georg Meister / pixelio.de

U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports all opened the New Year on a positive note, although market conditions suggest 2014 could be a challenging year for U.S. red meat exports, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports continued the strong performance set in 2013, rising 13% in volume and 16% in value for the month, bolstered by double-digit growth to Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. Pork exports rose 3% in volume and 2% in value for the month, driven by growth to Mexico, while lamb exports increased 7% in volume and 9% in value.

While price is just one of many factors that affect red meat trade, higher U.S. pork and beef prices will create challenges for American red meat exports in the months ahead, particularly in markets where customers are more price sensitive.

Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, noted that with U.S. beef production expected to drop 5% this year, and already running below last year's levels, it will be challenging to maintain export levels.

Beef

Strong performances in the key markets of Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, plus solid growth in Central/South America (Chile is the top destination, but with triple-digit growth to Colombia) offset a drop in exports to Canada (down 26% in volume and 21% in value), partially driven by the weaker Canadian dollar, as well as declines in the value of exports to the Middle East and volume to South Korea.

In addition, the re-emerging Indonesian market was the eighth-largest single-country destination by volume as exports continued the strong pace set back in October following improved market access conditions.

January exports of 97,824 t were up 13%. Export value rose 16% year-over-year to $514.5 mill. Exports accounted for 13% of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat), and 10% of muscle cuts alone - increases of 2 and 1%, respectively. The export value per head of fed slaughter was $219.73, up $14.79 from last year.

Top-performing beef export markets

Mexico: 20,228 t (up 23%) valued at $93.6 mill. (up 27%)
Japan: 15,655 t (up 53%) valued at $92.9 mill. (up 28%)
Hong Kong: 12,811 t (up 83%) valued at $80.9 mill. (up 118%)
Central/South America: 2,843 t (up 26%) valued at $12.4 mill. (up 32%)
Chile: 975 t (up 25%) valued at $4.7 mill. (up 26%)
Colombia: 369 t (up 258%) valued at $1.3 mill. (up 243%)
Indonesia: 1,741 t (up 3,314%) valued at $4.6 mill. (up 879%)

Pork

Solid export growth to Mexico and the largest export volume to Japan since October 2012 helped push U.S. pork exports up 3% in volume (191,561 t) and 2% in value ($535.6 mill.). Sales to the Hong Kong/China region were steady in volume versus last January, but rose 15% in value. The Central/South America region was up sharply, driven by triple-digit growth to Columbia, while both Oceania and the ASEAN region posted solid increases.

Pork exports accounted for 25.5% of total pork production and 21% of muscle cuts alone, up slightly from January of 2013. Export value averaged $54.70 per head, up $2.12 from last year.

Top-performing pork export markets

Mexico: 59,825 t (up 9%) valued at $113.2 mill. (up 10%)
Japan: 39,069 t (up 4%) valued at $163.4 mill. (down 6%)
Hong Kong/China: 34,766 t (even) valued at $82.7 million (up 15%)
Central/South America: 11,284 t (up 74%) valued at $29.1 mill. (up 79%)
Colombia: 4,732 t (up 258%) valued at $12.4 mill. (up 270%)
Oceania: 7,429 t (up 16%) valued at $24.6 mill. (up 25%)
New Zealand: 1,085 t (up 63%) valued at $3.3 mill. (up 62%)
Caribbean: 3,138 t (up 22%) valued at $7.3 mill. (up 14%)

Lamb

Lamb exports for January increased 7% in volume to 1,056 t and 9% in value to $2.7 mill. Mexico remains the top lamb destination, purchasing 913 t valued at $1.5 mill. The Caribbean, Canada and the Middle East follow in volume, although Central/South America is emerging as a market, largely driven by sales to Panama: 13 t (up 550%) valued at $96,000 (up 243%).
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