Meat Case

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U.S. beef and pork export volumes trended lower in November, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. However, the cumulative 2014 volume totals were still higher year-over-year, with January-November beef exports up 2 percent to 1.1 million metric tons. Pork exports were also 2 percent higher at just under 2 million mt.

With December totals still to be recorded, beef exports already set a new full-year value record of $6.49 billion (up 16 percent year-over-year). Pork export value through November ($6.13 billion, up 11 percent) is on pace to break the 2012 record and already exceeds the 2013 year-end total.

November results were mixed for beef exports, with volume down 5 percent from a year ago to 96,348 mt, while value was 19 percent higher at $626.7 million. November pork exports were down 13 percent in volume (168,062 mt) and 6 percent in value ($519.9 million).

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said while the first 11 months of 2014 reflect a very solid performance for U.S. beef and pork, exports face heightening economic challenges in leading markets in the coming year.

“Demand for U.S. beef and pork remains strong, as international buyers appreciate the unmatched quality and consistency of our products,” he said. “But lower slaughter numbers reduced 2014 supplies, which obviously had an impact on prices, and in recent months buying power in many key markets has been affected by slowing economic growth and weaker currencies. Market access restrictions in several important markets, including China and Russia, also had a big impact on opportunities for U.S. exports last year. The outlook for 2015 is for more of the same, but our industry has proven its ability to identify and develop export outlets in difficult times. When I look across the world as a whole, I still see good potential for further expansion of red meat exports in 2015.”

Key Asian markets drive beef export value to record heights

November beef exports equated to 15 percent of total production and 12 percent of muscle cut production, compared to 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, a year ago. For January through November, exports equated to 14 percent of total production and 11 percent for muscle cuts (up from 13 percent and 10 percent). Export value per head of fed slaughter was $359.77 in November (up 35 percent from a year ago) and $293.96 for January-November (up 16 percent).

November exports to leading market Japan were the smallest since March at 18,449 mt—reflecting a seasonal slowdown—but export value ($136.5 million) was still up 35 percent. January-November exports increased 3 percent in volume (225,328 mt) and 13 percent in value ($1.47 billion) as U.S. beef continued to reclaim market share in Japan.

Other January-November beef results include:

Exports to Hong Kong surpassed $1 billion for the first time ($1.01 billion, up 39 percent) on volume of 137,435 mt (up 19 percent).

Strong momentum continued for U.S. beef in South Korea, as exports were up 14 percent in volume (107,147 mt) and 44 percent in value ($762.8 million). On a value basis, U.S. market share in Korea climbed from 38 percent in 2013 to 42 percent in 2014.

Exports to Taiwan rebounded from a slow start in 2014, reaching 30,984 mt (up 6 percent) valued at a record $264.8 million (up 15 percent).

While exports to Mexico slowed in November, totals were still up 14 percent in volume (219,712 mt) and 28 percent in value ($1.05 billion) for the year. (As USMEF has noted previously, however, data issues from January-May 2013 suggest that year-over-year growth for 2014 is likely overstated.)

Pork export pace slows in leading markets Mexico, Japan

November pork exports equated to 25 percent of total production and 20 percent of muscle cut production—down from 26 percent and 22 percent a year ago. For January through November, exports equated to 27 percent of total production (up from 25.5 percent) and 22 percent for muscle cuts (up from 21 percent). Export value per head slaughtered was $58.99 in November (up 3 percent from a year ago) and $63.21 for January-November (up 17 percent).

Exports to leading volume market Mexico slowed in November (53,433 mt, down 9 percent) but January-November volume still reached 617,034 mt, up 10 percent from a year ago. Export value was 2 percent lower in November ($121.8 million) but still up 31 percent year-over-year to a record $1.42 billion.

Pork muscle cut exports to Japan were down 22 percent in November (25,901 mt) and fell 19 percent in value ($120.3 million). For January-November, muscle cut exports to Japan were down 6 percent in volume (354,239 mt) and 2 percent in value to $1.66 billion. The Japanese market has been greatly impacted by an influx of pork from the European Union, which has been locked out of its top market, Russia, since January 2014. Data from Japan show that pork/pork variety meat imports from the EU increased 42 percent through November, reflecting lower prices resulting from the impasse with Russia.

Other January-November pork results include:

Exports to Korea have already surpassed 2013 year-end totals in both volume (120,724 mt, up 40 percent from a year ago), and value ($392.3 million, up 64 percent).

Led by Colombia, exports to the Central/South America region remain on a record volume pace (112,101 mt, up 3 percent) and have already set a new value record of $316.4 million (up 15 percent). Although exports to Colombia slowed in the fourth quarter, January-November totals were still up 42 percent in volume (43,716 mt) and 54 percent in value ($123.8 million).

While pork exports to Canada were 9 percent lower in volume (191,355 mt), export value remained strong at $832.1 million – up 7 percent year-over-year and approaching the full-year record of $855.7 million set in 2012.

November lamb exports lose momentum

U.S. lamb exports were lower in November, breaking a four-month run of year-over-year increases. January-November exports were down 15 percent in volume (9,673 mt) and 1 percent in value ($25.6 million). Exports increased to Mexico, the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Panama and the Philippines, but these results did not fully offset a sharp decline in exports to Canada. Lamb muscle cut exports fared better, achieving a 6 percent increase in value ($15.7 million) despite a 6 percent decline in volume (2,621 mt).

Complete January-November export totals for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics webpage (

For more information, please contact Joe Schuele at or 303-226-7309.

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