August export values for U.S. beef and pork increased year-over-year for the second consecutive month despite declines in volume, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
August beef exports overcame a 3% decline in volume to 102,456 metric tons to set a new monthly value record of $655.2 million – up 16% from a year ago. For January through August, beef exports were up 3% in volume (790,208 mt) and 13% in value ($4.55 billion) compared to the same period last year.
Pork export volume was down 6% year-over-year in August to 162,992 mt, due in part to market access issues in Russia and the China/Hong Kong region. Export value still achieved a 6% increase to $529.9 million. For the first eight months of the year, pork export volume was up 6% to 1.48 million mt while value increased 15% to $4.53 billion.
Despite supply crunch, beef export values are up
August fed beef slaughter was down 10% year-over-year, making the beef export value record even more noteworthy. Export value per head of fed slaughter reached $326.94, up 29% from a year ago and shattering the previous record ($299.14) set in June.
For January through August, per-head export value was $279.48 – up 15% from the same period last year. Exports equated to 14% of total beef production and 11% for muscle cuts only – up from 13% and 10%, respectively, last year.
"International buyers are certainly concerned about supplies, and whether we will be able to meet the growing demand for U.S. beef," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "But price and supply concerns notwithstanding, their enthusiasm for U.S. beef has never been higher. We continue to see an outstanding response to our marketing campaigns and educational seminars informing buyers about the unique attributes of U.S. beef."
January-August beef export highlights include:
• Exports to Hong Kong were up 30% in volume (93,668 mt) and 50% in value ($667.8 million). After slowing in July, export value rebounded in August to $103.3 million (+32%).
• Exports to Korea continue to perform extremely well, with volume up 14% to 76,144 mt, valued at $522.1 million (+44%).
• A strong summer performance put exports to Taiwan on a record pace, with volume totaling 22,755 (+11%) and value up 16% to $190.6 million.
• Exports to Mexico slowed slightly in August but remain strong for the year, totaling 155,573 mt valued at $742 million. These totals are up 19% and 33%, respectively – but as USMEF has previously noted, data from early 2013 may have understated last year's exports.
• Exports to leading market Japan were down 3% in volume (161,098 mt) but increased 2% in value to $1.01 billion. The U.S. continued to gain market share, with Japan importing less beef from other suppliers.
Price trends, Russian import ban impact August pork exports >>
Pork export value per head of slaughter was $64.08 in August (+22%) and $65.29 for January through August (+21%). Exports accounted for 28% of total pork production and 23% for muscle cuts only – up from 26% and 22%, respectively, during the first eight months of 2013.
August pork exports may have slowed due to the late-July peak in U.S. pork prices, with international buyers waiting for greater price stability before bolstering inventories.
Exports also felt the impact of Russia's import ban, which was imposed Aug.7 on pork muscle cuts from the United States, Canada and the European Union. U.S. pork exports to Russia were 5,738 mt in August – less than half the July volume.
"When a large buyer like Russia exits the market, the global impact can be widespread," Seng explained. "For example, when Russia suspended imports of EU pork in January (due to African swine fever), there was a large increase in European pork entering Asian markets at very low prices. Similar trends could emerge as a result of this import ban, especially with Canadian pork that had previously been shipped to Russia in large quantities now seeking alternative markets."
Canada's pork exports fell 12% in August, with plummeting volumes for Russia partially offset by increases to China/Hong Kong, Korea and Mexico.
Mexico, which is the leading volume destination for U.S. pork, continued to perform very well in August – with exports reaching 56,528 mt (+13%) valued at $133.5 million (+30%). For the first eight months of the year, exports to Mexico maintained a record pace of 444,685 mt valued at $1.02 billion.
Other January-August pork export highlights include:
• Exports to Korea were up 31% in volume (89,334 mt) and 49% in value ($278.3 million). In just eight months, pork export value to Korea has already surpassed the 2013 year-end total of $276. 1 million.
• Colombia has rapidly emerged as the leading market for U.S. pork in the Central-South America region, with exports totaling 32,949 mt (+69%) valued at $91.7 million (+85%).
• Although exports to Australia slowed in August, January-August totals were still up 7% in volume (39,004 mt) and 16% in value ($136.2 million).
August exports to the China/Hong Kong region slowed for the fifth consecutive month, pushing January-August totals down 15% in volume (237,753 mt) and 10% in value ($530.1 million) from a year ago. On Aug. 12, China delisted six U.S. pork plants and six cold storage facilities, significantly reducing U.S. supplies eligible for the market.
Pork muscle cut exports to Japan slumped in August, pushing the January-August volume slightly below last year's pace (272,222 mt, -1%), while export value remained 3% higher at $1.26 billion. As noted above, this market has seen an influx of pork from European suppliers in recent months, with EU pork exports to Japan increasing about 50% from a year ago.