U.S. pork, beef exports solid

U.S. pork, beef exports solid

U.S. red-meat exports ended the first half of 2016 on a positive note; June export values for both pork and beef were the highest of the year. June also marked the second-consecutive month of solid year-over-year volume growth, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Pork exports reached 187,939 metric tons in June, up 8 percent from a year ago, while export value increased 11 percent to $505.4 million. For the first half of the year, pork export volume was up 2 percent to 1.1 million metric tons, but value was down 4 percent to $2.77 billion.

Exports accounted for 26 percent of total pork production in June and 22 percent for muscle cuts only – each up 1 percentage point from a year ago. For January through June, those ratios were 25 percent and 21 percent, respectively, up slightly from 2015. Export value per head slaughtered was $52.83 in June – up 10 percent from a year ago. First-half per-head value was $48.34, down 5 percent.

June beef-export volume increased 2 percent from a year ago to 98,920 metric tons, while export value was $545.4 million, down 5 percent. First-half export volume was up 3 percent to 541,547 metric tons, while value fell 10 percent to $2.91 billion. Exports accounted for 13 percent of total beef production in June and 10 percent for muscle cuts only – each down about 1 percentage point from a year ago. For January through June, these ratios were also 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, steady with last year. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $250 in June and $249.67 for the first half – each down 14 percent from a year ago.

Pork exports strong to China and Hong Kong

June pork exports to China and Hong Kong remained well ahead of the 2015 pace, increasing 84 percent in volume to 50,374 metric tons, and 73 percent in value to $98.8 million. But June volume was the lowest since February, reflecting some cooling of the market. Exports to China and Hong Kong finished the first half 80 percent higher than a year ago in volume at 284,900 metric tons and 63 percent higher in value at $540.5 million.

“New opportunities for U.S. pork were developed in China-Hong Kong over the past year, and the inroads we made with importers and other key buyers in the region will pay long-term dividends,” said federation President and CEO Philip Seng. “But it is important to recognize the shift in market conditions in China, which means growth in other key markets is essential to achieving a successful second half in 2016.”

Leading pork-value market Japan showed renewed momentum in June, with exports up 1 percent from a year ago in volume, to 32,879 metric tons, and 6 percent higher in value at $138.1 million. First-half exports to Japan were still down 13 percent in volume at 192,862 metric tons and 10 percent in value at $749.6 million, as record volumes of chilled U.S. pork entering Japan – 109,665 metric tons, up 19 percent and valued at $485 million, up 14 percent – were offset by lower imports of frozen product.

After a strong May performance, pork exports to Mexico took a step back in June, falling 13 percent from a year ago in volume, at 54,335 metric ton, and 5 percent in value at $105.4 million. First-half export volume to Mexico was 324,745 metric tons, down 8 percent from a year ago, while value fell 9 percent to $566 million. A spike in ham prices, compounded by the weak peso, significantly impacted June export results. But with ham prices moderating by mid-July, the U.S. Meat Export Federation anticipates a rebound in demand.

June results were better north of the border; pork exports to Canada totaled 16,731 metric tons – up 11 percent from a year ago and the largest of 2016 – while export value increased 13 percent to $69.5 million. That pushed first-half exports to Canada slightly ahead of the 2015 pace at 96,582 metric tons, while value was steady at $381.6 million.

U.S. beef reclaims market share

in Japan

June beef exports to Japan were the largest in nearly two years at 25,836 metric tons, up 29 percent from a year ago. First-half exports climbed 12 percent in volume to 122,316 metric tons and 5 percent in value to $707.2 million. Showing strong demand for high-quality cuts, Japan’s first-half imports of chilled U.S. beef surged 51 percent from a year ago to 50,795 metric tons. The shipments were valued at $369 million, up 32 percent. Japan’s first-half import data also show a strong rebound in market share for U.S. beef at 38.5 percent – up from 33 percent in 2015 and about 1 percentage point higher than in 2014. Australia’s market share, which was nearly 57 percent in the first half of 2015, fell to 52 percent.

“U.S. beef faces a significant tariff-rate disadvantage in Japan, and this gap will grow larger unless and until the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified,” Seng said. “But rather than dwell on the challenges we face in this market, the U.S. industry needs to capitalize on its opportunities. And (the U.S. Meat Export Federation) is doing so by educating retail and foodservice buyers about the wide range of U.S. beef cuts that appeal to their customers. We’re pushing well beyond the forequarter cuts traditionally marketed in Japan, and consumers are responding in a very positive way.”

Beef exports to Mexico remained strong in June, increasing 14 percent from a year ago to 20,021 metric tons, though value was down 13 percent to $76.2 million. First-half exports to Mexico were up 3 percent in volume to 111,834 metric tons, valued at $475.4 million, down 11 percent.

Lamb exports slump

Visit www.usmef.org/news-statistics/statistics for complete first-half export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb.