Pork US exports still facing headwinds
Pork muscle cut exports improved over last September’s volume, but were offset by sharply lower shipments of pork variety meat.
September pork export volume was down 2% from a year ago to 179,423 t, while export value fell 7%to $470.2 mill. Pork muscle cuts were 2% higher than a year ago at 146,542 t, but value still declined 3% to $397.6 mill. September variety meat exports dropped significantly in both volume (32,881 t, down 18%) and value ($72.6 mill., down 21%). For January through September, combined pork and pork variety meat exports were 1% above last year’s record pace at 1.81 mill. t and 2% higher in value at $4.79 bn. For pork muscle cuts only, exports increased 6% from a year ago in volume (1.46 mill. t), valued at just under $4 bn. (up 3%).
September exports accounted for 24.8% of total pork production, up from 23.6% a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 21.8% – up two full percentage points from last September. For January through September, pork exports accounted for 26.1% of total production, down from 26.5% last year, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22.1 to 22.7%. Export value per head slaughtered was down 1% from a year ago in September ($48.72) and for January through September ($52.46).
September pork exports to South Korea increased 33% from a year ago in volume (12,486 t) and 30% in value ($33.6 mill.). Through September, exports increased 43% in volume (172,022 t) while export value climbed 48% to $489.2 mill. – already topping the 2017 year-end total of $475 mill. US share of Korea’s total pork imports has increased dramatically this year, from 31 to 35%, even as imports also trended higher from most of Korea’s main suppliers.
Pork exports to South America continued to gain momentum in September, led by strong growth in Colombia and Peru and a rebound in exports to Chile. Through the first three quarters of the year, exports to the region were 27% ahead of last year’s record pace in volume (92,252 t) and 22% higher in value ($227.9 mill.). With steady growth in mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala and sharply higher shipments to Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, January-September exports to Central America increased 20% in volume (58,756 t) and 17% in value ($138.7 mill.). This region is also coming off a record year in 2017. Exports to the Dominican Republic have already broken the records set last year, with volume climbing 35% to 32,859 t, valued at $71.6 mill. (up 29%).
Other January-September results for US pork exports include:
• Exports to Japan increased 2% year-over-year in both volume (295,346 t) and value ($1.22 bn.). This included a 2% decrease in chilled pork volume (155,395 t) while value held steady at $750 mill. US share of Japan’s total imports has held relatively steady this year at 35%. But with CPTPP set to enter into force 30 December and with the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement also on track to be implemented in the coming months, US pork will soon face significant tariff disadvantages in its leading value market.
• Despite a fourth straight month in which shipments were below last year’s level, exports to leading volume market Mexico remained 1% ahead of last year’s record pace at 589,235 t. Export value, however, has felt intense pressure from Mexico’s retaliatory duties, dropping 8% to $1.01 bn. Canada’s January-September exports to Mexico were up 20% to 93,346 t (valued at $126.5 mill., up 25%). EU exports also surged to Mexico in July (1,809 t, up 747%) and August (2,343 t, up 733%) and are expected to continue gaining momentum as Spain, Denmark and Germany take advantage of Mexico’s recently implemented duty-free pork quota.
• Exports to China/Hong Kong declined 26% from a year ago to 277,779 t, with value dropping 14% to $667.9 mill. This region is the largest destination for US pork variety meat exports, which were down 27% in volume (177,747 t) and 13% in value ($466.2 mill.).
• Led by strong growth in the Philippines and Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region increased 40% in volume (49,406 t) and 29% in value ($123.5 mill.). This was fueled by a surge in pork variety meat exports to the region, which more than doubled over last year in both volume (20,111 t, up 147%) and value ($32.2 mill., up 122%).
• With solid growth in Australia and a steady performance in New Zealand, exports to Oceania were 11% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (62,360 t) and 10% higher in value ($182.3 mill.).