The pace of U.S. beef and pork exports increased sharply in March, driven by double-digit increases to leading markets Mexico, the China/Hong Kong region and South Korea, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
U.S. pork exports reached their highest monthly total since October 2012: 209,704 t valued at $606.7 mill., increasing 29% in both volume and value over March 2013. Exports of U.S. beef rose 12% in volume to 93,380 t valued at $516.2 mill., an increase of 17%.
When measured in proportion to overall U.S. beef and pork production, March exports also showed gains. Total pork exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) equated to 31.5% of total U.S. pork production in March (26% of muscle cuts alone) versus 28 and 23.5%, respectively, a year ago. Beef exports accounted for 14% of total production and 11% of muscle cuts - up from 12 and 9% in 2013.
The export value per head slaughtered set a new record of $69.93 for pork in March, topping the $60 per head mark for the first time and up from $50.38 last year. The export value per head of fed slaughter for beef was $271.57, up from $222.20 a year ago. Pork notes
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has been a factor both in the United States and in a number of export markets, creating supply concerns going into the summer. But exports remained strong in March to virtually all key markets, despite a 4% decline in U.S. pork production for the month. Thus, the export increase likely reflects the fact that some product was shipped out of cold storage from previous months' production.
● Mexico: up 38% in volume (54,284 t) and 75% in value ($121 mill.).
● Japan: up 22% in volume (45,358 t) and 8% in value ($175.3 mill.). This was the largest monthly sales volume to Japan since May 2011, driven by growth in chilled and ground seasoned pork exports.
● Hong Kong/China: up 49% in volume (41,295 t) and 59% in value ($93.6 mill.) - the largest monthly total since February 2013, reflecting growth in muscle cut sales.
● South Korea: up 73% in volume (16,104 t) and 83% in value ($46.4 mill.) - the biggest export month since March 2012.
● ASEAN: up 90% in volume (9,703 t) and 93% in value ($25.4 mill.).
● Central/South America: up 29% in volume (10,985 t) and 32% in value ($28.5 mill.), driven by record exports to Colombia (5,049 t, up 193%; valued at $12.6 mill., up 177%). Beef notes
U.S. beef production dipped 5% in March and 5% for the first quarter compared to year-ago levels, but exports remained positive, helping to set a new record for the Choice beef cutout value in mid-March at $2.42 per pound.
● Mexico: up 82% in volume (19,495 t) and 94% in value ($90.1 mill.).
● Japan: down 10% in volume (16,649 t) and 6% in value ($107.5 mill.) compared to year-ago levels as sales to Japan surged in March 2013 upon the announcement of expanded market access. U.S. beef exports to Japan for the first quarter remain up 21% in volume (46,681 t) and 16% in value ($292.1 mill.).
● Hong Kong: up 88% in volume (12,224 t) and 112% in value ($80.6 mill.) - continuing the upward trend since access for U.S. beef was expanded in February 2013.
● South Korea: up 10% in volume (9,601 t) and 37% in value ($65.8 mill.), despite being a primary target for Australia's drought-related surge in beef production and exports.
● Central/South America: up 4% in volume (2,864 t) and 16% in value ($13 mill.), driven by larger shipments to Colombia and Guatemala. Lamb notes
U.S. lamb exports dipped across the board in March, reaching 740 t (down 41%) valued at $1.9 mill. (down 37%). For the first quarter, lamb exports are down 16% in volume (2,645 t) and 12% in value ($6.6 mill.).
Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation