Strong Momentum Continues for U.S. Beef, Pork Exports
August was a solid month for both U.S. beef and pork exports as both easily outpaced the results of August 2009 and increased their gains over the cumulative totals from the first eight months of 2009.
Beef exports for the month increased 24 percent in volume and 43 percent in value compared to August 2009, totaling 92,579 metric tons valued at $373.7 million. The cumulative January-August totals were up 16 percent in volume (680,609 metric tons) and 27 percent in value ($2.57 billion). This value total is nine percent higher than the corresponding pre-BSE value total from January-August 2003. Korea remains the largest growth market, with exports of 73,625 metric tons valued at $345 million (an increase of 131 percent and 175 percent, respectively).
On a per-head basis, beef exports equated to $159.60 per steer and heifer slaughtered in August--up from about $120.00 in August 2009. Export value for January-August equated to $144.32 per head compared to $115.25 a year ago. Exports made up 11.4 percent of production, up from 9.7 percent last year.
August pork exports were up nine percent in volume and 16 percent in value over last year, totaling 146,459 metric tons valued at $369 million. For January through August, exports totaled 1.244 million metric tons valued at $3.11 billion. The volume is three percent higher than 2009, while the value is up nine percent over last year and trails the record pace of 2008 by just three percent. Mexico ($644 million, up 32 percent) and Canada ($409 million, up 25 percent) led pork export value growth, but exports to Japan (the largest value market for U.S. pork) were also up three percent in value to $1.09 billion.
On a per-head basis, pork export value was $40.87 in August, up from $34.50 last year. For January-August, export value was $43.92 compared to $38.79 last year. Exports as a percent of total production equated to 22.4 percent in August and nearly 24 percent for the year. Both figures are up slightly from August 2009 (20 percent) and January-August 2009 (22.4 percent).
Beef surging in most major markets
All major beef export markets showed strong growth through the first eight months of the year except for Vietnam (which is down slightly in volume but still up 12 percent in value) and Mexico, which is down 21 percent in volume and 18 percent in value. August results for Mexico were somewhat encouraging, however, as volume (20,959 metric tons) was down slightly from last year but value (just over $70 million) was 6 percent higher.
"Mexico has remained a challenging market for beef, due to the sluggish economy and a peso that has been slow to strengthen," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "But recent results there have been more promising, so we're hopeful that our No. 1 market is getting back on track and that Mexico is beginning to share in the strong momentum U.S. beef is gaining worldwide."
Canada remains the second-largest market for U.S. beef. Export volume (98,022 metric tons) to Canada is relatively flat this year, but value is up eight percent to $461.1 million. August was a strong month for Canada, with exports rising nearly 10 percent in volume and 25 percent in value over August 2009.
Japan is closing the gap on Canada as beef exports reached 78,879 metric tons valued at $404.3 million. Export growth to Japan has been strong and steady throughout the year, holding at 26 percent for both volume and value. August growth was slightly better, however, exceeding 30 percent over August 2009.
In addition to the strong growth in Korea (detailed above), other beef export highlights for January-August include:
Exports to Egypt increased 29 percent in volume (69,811 metric tons) and 65 percent in value ($97.1 million). Strong growth in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia helped push exports to the Middle East region to 82,850 metric tons valued at $150.7 million--increases of 31 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Muscle cut exports to the region were record-large in August, totaling 4,782 metric tons with a value of $15.9 million.
Despite relatively slow growth in Vietnam, exports to the ASEAN region increased by 20 percent in volume (47,623 metric tons) and 26 percent in value ($153.8 million), led by exceptional results in the Philippines and Indonesia.
Taiwan, which has set new value records for purchases of U.S. beef in each of the past four years, appears well on its way to another record in 2010. Exports to Taiwan have increased 42 percent in volume (24,409 metric tons) and 54 percent in value ($131.1 million), rapidly approaching last year's calendar year-ending total of $141.1 million.
Exports to Russia have already set a new record for value at $104.5 million, surpassing the previous high of $95.3 million set in 2008. Compared to last year, exports to Russia are up 139 percent in volume (37,101 metric tons) and 476 percent in value.
Despite a slowdown in August, cumulative exports to Hong Kong were still up 50 percent in volume (20,407 metric tons) and 68 percent in value ($76.3 million).
Pork stays on a roll
While U.S. pork exports achieved excellent growth in Mexico and Canada (detailed above), smaller markets in the Western Hemisphere also performed extremely well. Exports to Central and South America climbed 34 percent in volume (36,762 metric tons) and 36 percent in value ($84.9 million), led by strong results in Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. Exports to the Caribbean were up nine percent in volume (29,973 metric tons) and 21 percent in value ($63.2 million), with growth led by the Dominican Republican and Trinidad and Tobago.
"USMEF has begun some aggressive marketing initiatives in Central America this year and we are seeing strong gains for U.S. pork in this region," Seng said. "Despite some ongoing market access issues in some of the islands--such as Jamaica and St. Lucia--U.S. pork is also achieving great success in the Caribbean. Individually these markets are rather small, but their collective growth potential is significant.
While Japan remains the largest export value market by a large margin, export volume to Japan also achieved a small increase over last year to 291,821 metric tons. The value total of $1.09 billion is actually well ahead of the pace set in 2008, when exports to Japan set an all-time value record. Increasing domestic inventories in Japan, however, make a new record unlikely in 2010.
"We are very pleased with the results achieved in Japan," Seng said. "U.S. pork has expanded its presence through new products such as back ribs, and gained excellent traction in high-growth sectors such as convenience stores. But Japan is an exceptionally competitive market both in terms of domestic pork and products from other foreign suppliers. So we must be even more aggressive if we are going to maintain our strong market share because our competitors are really stepping up their efforts in the world's largest and most lucrative imported pork market."
Other market highlights include:
--Led by exceptional growth in the Philippines, exports to the ASEAN region were up 36 percent in volume (47,053 metric tons) and 48 percent in value ($92 million). The Philippines now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the ASEAN market for U.S. pork, though Singapore has also achieved solid growth this year.
--Exports to Australia are up 14 percent in volume (39,033 metric tons) and 28 percent in value ($105.7 million). U.S. pork set a record in Australia last year and has achieved steady growth there since entering the market in 2004. The United States is now the largest volume supplier of pork to Australia, holding 36 percent of the imported pork market.
--Exports to both China (13,577 metric tons valued at $21.7 million) and Russia (10,141 metric tons valued at $19.5 million) were large in August, with China just missing an all-time monthly volume record. Despite exports to Russia still being constrained by a number of delisted plants, these results show a strong rebound in demand for U.S. pork (particularly variety meat) in two key markets that were down sharply in 2009 and in the early months of 2010.
"Certainly our cumulative results in China and Russia are not where we would like them to be at this point in the year," Seng said. "However, we are once again very active in both markets and they are no longer leaving a hole in our worldwide export totals. This is good news, as these are critical components in our efforts to maintain a diverse base of export markets to support continued U.S. pork export growth."
Lamb exports strong in Mexico
U.S. lamb exports to Mexico are up 56 percent in volume and 70 percent in value, easily making it the leading market in both categories. Exports to Costa Rica have also performed well this year.
Exports to the Caribbean are down 29 percent in volume and 66 percent in value despite significant growth in the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands Antilles. Exports to Canada are also down, slipping 39 percent in volume and 23 percent in value. For the year, U.S. lamb exports are down 23 percent in volume to 2,328 metric tons and 7 percent in value to $3.2 million.
Complete January-August statistics for beef, pork and lamb are available online.