USA, Denver, Colorado. February results for U.S. pork and beef exports were well above year-ago levels, with pork exports posting the strongest February volume on record, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Anyway trade deficits are a hot topic of conversation, especially with countries such as Mexico, China and Japan.
Pork exports reached 197,025 metric tons (mt) in February, up 15% year-over-year, with value up 17% to $486.7 mill. For the first two months of 2017, exports totaled 399,692 mt, up 18%, with value increasing 22% to $995.3 mill. February exports accounted for 27.6% of total pork production and 22.9% for muscle cuts only, up from 23.8% and 20%, respectively, last year. January-February ratios were also significantly higher at 26.8% and 22.2%, compared to 23% and 19.3% in the first two months of 2016. Export value per hog slaughtered averaged $51.94 in February, up 18% year-over-year, while the January-February average was up 20% to $51.05.
Beef exports totaled 90,417 mt in February, up 9% year-over-year, with value up 16% to $508.5 mill. Through February, beef exports were up 13% in volume (186,905 mt) and 17% in value ($1.02 bn). February exports accounted for 12.6% of total beef production and 10.1% for muscle cuts only, which was steady with last year. January-February ratios were also fairly steady at 12.4% and 9.8%, respectively. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $276.96 in February, up 13% from a year ago, while the January-February average was up 10% to $266.34 per head.
“With trade deficits being a hot topic of conversation, especially with countries such as Mexico, China and Japan, it’s important to highlight the sectors in which U.S. products are competitive throughout the world and exports are thriving,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. The red meat sector is certainly in that category, as exports have helped fuel growth in the U.S. industry and, in turn, larger U.S. production has opened further export opportunities and generated positive returns for the entire supply chain.
Pork exports strong to Western Hemisphere and North Asian markets
Mexico was once again the pacesetter for February pork exports, with volume up 22% to 64,990 mt and value increasing 28% to $116 mill. This pushed the two-month totals for Mexico to 137,396 mt (up 27%) valued at $244.7 mill (up 39%). Mexico’s strong demand is reflected not only in increased buying from the U.S., but also in relatively high domestic hog prices, as per capita consumption of pork continues to grow. Strong demand from Mexico helped move prices for U.S. heavy bone-in hams higher in 2017 – up an average of 4% year-over-year. For Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, February exports increased 14% to 32,178 mt, valued at $130.4 mill (up 18%). For January-February, exports to Japan were up 10% in volume (63,755 mt) and 14 percent in value ($256.1 million). Chilled pork exports to Japan increased 7% through February to 34,682 metric tons.
Chilled beef to Japan, Korea and Taiwan continues to drive export growth
Japan continued to solidify its position as the leading volume and value market for U.S. beef, with February exports climbing 48% from a year ago in volume (23,789 mt) and 55% in value ($134.3 mill). Through February, exports to Japan were up 41% in volume (46,276 mt) and 44% in value ($259.6 mill). This included a 60% increase in chilled beef volume to 19,404 mt. Japanese import data showed that U.S. beef overtook Australian beef in the first two months of the year, with U.S. market share climbing to 45.6% while Australia’s dropped to 44%. Strong momentum continued for U.S. beef in Korea, where February exports increased 11% to 13,093 mt valued at $86 mill (up 26%). This pushed the two-month totals up 23% in volume (28,287 mt) and 31% in value ($177.6 mill). Chilled exports through February were up 95% to 5,384 mt.