Buoyed by double-digit export growth to Mexico – the largest volume market for all U.S. red meat exports – U.S. pork and beef exports performed well in February despite growing concerns about tight supplies and rising prices, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef sales to Mexico in the first two months of 2014 are up 26 percent in volume to 37,638 metric tons (mt) and 40 percent in value ($183 million), while pork exports are 16 percent higher in volume (113,677 mt) and 21 percent in value ($222.3 million). Mexico also is the largest volume and value market for U.S. lamb exports.
February pork exports totaled 182,412 mt, up 2 percent from a year ago, while export value also rose 2 percent to $506.4 million. Cumulative exports for the first two months of the year similarly were 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (373,973 mt) and value ($1.04 billion).
February beef export volume was down slightly from a year ago to 85,876 mt, reflecting smaller variety meat exports, but value was up 12 percent to $480.3 million. January-February exports were 6 percent higher in volume (183,700 mt) and 14 percent in value ($994.8 million).
“Mexico continues to be an invaluable trading partner for our industry,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.
February pork exports equated to 27.5 percent of total pork production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 23 percent of muscle cut production alone. Export value averaged $58.42 per head slaughtered, up 2 percent from a year ago and the highest monthly average since March 2012.
Strong demand in Mexico continues to be an important driver of U.S. pork exports, as February shipments far exceeded last year’s totals and even topped the very strong results posted in February 2012.
“Just as the PED virus has had an impact on domestic pork production in Mexico, it has likely been a factor in pork imports trending higher to South Korea,” said Seng.
Top performing markets in February (with comparisons to a year ago) included:
- Mexico, up 25 percent in volume (53,852 mt) and 35 percent in value ($109.1 million).
- Exports to Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, were 7 percent higher in volume (35,692) but 5 percent lower in value ($139.8 million).
- Volume edged higher in Korea (12,643 mt, +3 percent) and export value climbed 10 percent to $36.6 million.
- Exports to Colombia, which has quickly emerged as the largest market for U.S. pork in the Central-South America region, nearly doubled in both volume (4,288 mt, +88 percent) and value ($11 million, +89 percent).
- Exports to Australia continued to rebound (5,987 mt, +11 percent with value $20.4 million up 17 percent).