Paced by sustained strong performances by the Japan and Hong Kong markets and a rebound in Mexico, U.S. beef exports in September remained ahead of 2012 levels. U.S. pork exports continue to face a number of challenges including access restrictions in Russia and a lingering downturn in the Japan market, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Powered by a 37 percent jump in the volume of beef exports to Japan, 65 percent to Mexico and 102 percent to Hong Kong, U.S. beef exports rose nearly 5 percent in September and are up 1 percent for the year. The value of those exports – up nearly 16 percent to Japan, 56 percent to Mexico, 182 percent to Hong Kong and more than 41 percent to South Korea – drove the value of U.S. beef exports up 14 percent for the month and they remain 10 percent ahead of the 2012 pace that set a record of $5.51 billion.
U.S. pork exports received a boost from sales to the China/Hong Kong region – up 14 percent in volume and 24 percent in value for the month – as well as strong sales to the ASEAN region (up 45 percent in volume and nearly 47 percent in value), but continued access restrictions to Russia and a very competitive market in Japan continued to keep pork exports down 5 percent in value and more than 9 percent in volume for the month and 5 percent in both categories for the year.
“On the beef side, the industry aggressively pursued the opportunities available for U.S. product when market access was expanded in Japan and Hong Kong, and we are seeing exciting growth in both those markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “On the pork side, we are continuing to face challenges from strong competition in Japan that is driving down our market share, and access issues with Russia continue to hamper our industry, both in pork and beef.”
In fact, the decline in pork exports to just Japan and Russia amount to nearly all of the drop-off in pork export volume this year (81,874 metric tons of a total 85,705 metric ton decline) and more than the total dip in export value ($246.7 million decline from the two markets versus $213 million overall).
For the month of September, the United States exported 94,698 metric tons of beef valued at $505.5 million, accounting for 13 percent of total beef production and 11 percent of muscle cuts (versus 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, last September). The export value per head of fed slaughter in September was $249, up from $227.65 a year ago.
Pork exports for the month totaled 166,650 metric tons valued at $478.7 million, accounting for 25 percent of total U.S. pork production and 21 percent of muscle cuts (versus 26.7 percent and 23 percent, respectively, last September). The export value per head for the month averaged $53, down from $53.43 last year.
Top beef markets
Japan remains the top export market for U.S. beef in 2013. Exports to Japan are up 52 percent in volume (183,942 metric tons) and 35 percent in value ($1.1 billion) for the year, accounting for 21.3 percent of the total volume of U.S. beef exports and 24.2 percent of the value.
The No. 2 volume market for U.S. beef, Mexico took larger volumes for four consecutive months, with September exports increasing nearly 65 percent in volume (18,990 metric tons) and 56 percent in value ($82 million) over year-ago levels. For the year, it is down just 1 percent in volume (149,887 metric tons) and even in value at $641.7 million.
Canada remains a strong market for U.S. beef, second in value and third in volume for the year at 133,776 metric tons (up 6 percent) valued at $912.9 million (up 10 percent).
Other key beef export markets for 2013 include:
- Hong Kong: up 96 percent in volume (84,473 metric tons) and 137 percent in value ($530.9 million)
- South Korea: down 19 percent in volume (75,962 metric tons) and 2 percent in value ($419 million)
- Middle East: down 3 percent in volume (111,895 metric tons) and 18 percent in value ($211.8 million) for the year, with the decline coming in the competitive Egyptian muscle cut market
- Central/South America: up 24 percent in volume (32,549 metric tons) and 15 percent in value ($113.7 million) led by strong growth to Peru, Chile and Colombia
- Taiwan: up 135 percent in volume (23,404 metric tons) and 195 percent in value ($185.7 million)