LIVESTOCK MARKETS: October pork exports largest since 2014

October pork and beef exports both achieve double-digit increases from a year ago.

U.S. pork and beef exports continued to build momentum in October, with both achieving double-digit increases from a year ago, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

October pork exports totaled 201,936 metric tons, up 14% from a year ago and the largest monthly volume since March 2014. The export value was $521.1 million, up 16%. For January through October, export volume was 6% above last year’s pace at 1.86 million mt, while export value was up 3% to $4.79 billion.

Exports accounted for 25.5% of total pork production in October and 21% for muscle cuts only. For January to October, exports accounted for 25% of total production – up a full percentage point from a year ago – and 21% for muscle cuts, up slightly. The export value per head slaughtered averaged $47 in October, up 8 % year over year, while the January-to-October export value averaged $49, steady with the same period last year.

October beef export volume was 105,938 mt, up 12% from a year ago, while export value climbed 10% to $559.5 million. For January through October, export volume was up 9% from a year ago to 954,868 mt, while value was down 3% to $5.1 billion. Beef muscle cut exports were especially strong in October at 75,903 mt – the largest volume in two years, USMEF noted.

Beef exports accounted for 14% of total production in October and 11% for muscle cuts only. January-to-October ratios were just more than 13% and 10%, respectively – up slightly from the same period last year. The export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $269.35 in October, up 5% from a year ago. Through the first 10 months of 2016, export value averaged $254.71 per head, down 8%.

“With pork production at a record level and beef production also on the rise, it is imperative that we work to expand global demand and accelerate the volume of product entering the international markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and chief executive officer. “With strong support from USDA, our U.S. industry partners and our international contacts, USMEF has intensified its marketing efforts in key destinations and capitalized on opportunities to regain market share not only in mainstay markets such as Japan, Mexico and South Korea but in a wide range of countries. This has laid the groundwork for a strong finish to this year and further growth in 2017.”

Pork exports strengthen in Western Hemisphere

Pork exports to Mexico remained strong in October, increasing 9% from a year ago in volume (65,271 mt) and 6% in value ($115.2 million). For January through October, exports to Mexico pulled within 2% of last year’s record pace in volume (576,008 mt) and remained 1% higher in value ($1.05 billion).

USMEF said the strong performance has been especially supportive of prices for U.S. hams, the highest-volume export item to Mexico. Through October, in pesos, U.S. ham prices were 21% higher than a year ago, while demand in Mexico remained strong. Ham prices strengthened further in November, and weekly export data showed even larger shipments to Mexico. To overcome the difficult exchange rate situation, USMEF has emphasized the quality and consistency of U.S hams with Mexico’s meat processors and worked with these companies on new product development.

Pork exports to leading value market Japan were also strong in October, increasing 4% from a year ago in volume (30,987 mt) and 9% in value ($127.9 million). Through the first 10 months of the year, exports to Japan were 7% below last year’s pace in volume (320,491 mt) and 4% lower in value ($1.29 billion). Chilled pork exports to Japan remained on a record pace through October, totaling 180,793 mt, up 9% year-over-year.

Pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong continued to moderate in October, reflecting a rebound in China’s domestic pork production, but variety meat exports to the region remained strong, according to the latest numbers. For January through October, total pork/pork variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong were up from a year ago by 66% in volume to 450,257 mt and by 55% in value to $878.8 million.

After a slow first half of 2016, exports to Colombia continue to rebound, USMEF reported. Although January-to-October exports were still down 13% year over year in volume to 30,713 mt and 20% in value to $70.6 million, October exports climbed 68% in volume to 5,862 mt and 77% in value to $14.6 million. October muscle cut exports to Colombia were the largest on record at 5,428 mt, up 58% from a year ago.

Following a slowdown in September, pork exports to Central America rebounded strongly in October, especially in Honduras, Guatemala and Panama. January-to-October exports to Central America were up 18% from a year ago in volume to 53,259 mt and 12% in value to $126.9 million.

Exports to the Dominican Republic were 9% above last year’s pace in volume at 20,945 mt and 4% higher in value at $45.8 million, including a 32% increase in October's export value to $4.8 million.

Although January-to-October exports to Korea remain well below last year’s large totals, USMEF said demand has strengthened in recent months. Pork muscle cut exports to Korea reached 11,469 mt in October, the largest since March. Combined pork/pork variety meat exports were 12,121, up 11% from a year ago. October export value climbed 26% to $33.8 million.

Chilled beef exports continue to shine

October beef exports were highlighted by record performance in Taiwan, where volume was up 90% from a year ago to 5,177 mt. This pushed January-to-October exports to Taiwan up 20% versus a year ago to 35,241 mt in volume and up 7% in value to $284.9 million — on track for a new record.

October exports were also outstanding to Japan, where volume soared 40% to 20,089 mt and value was up 34% to $119.8 million. January-to-October exports to Japan were up 21% in volume to 213,636 mt and 13% in value to $1.24 billion. In October, Japan’s imports of chilled beef from the U.S. exceeded imports from Australia for the second consecutive month.

October exports to Korea were up 63% year over year to 16,897 mt and up 68% in value to $98.8 million. January-to-October exports to Korea were 139,592 mt in volume and $814.2 million in value, up 36% and 21%, respectively, from a year ago. Export value to Korea is on pace to exceed the 2014 record of $847.4 million and, with a strong finish, could approach the $1 billion mark in 2016.

Chilled beef exports to both Japan and Korea have excelled in 2016, with shipments to both markets up nearly 40% year over year. Through October, chilled exports were the largest on record to Korea and the largest to Japan since 2003, USMEF noted.

Despite the persistent weakness of the peso, beef exports to Mexico were up 8% from a year ago to 195,799 mt, although export value to Mexico has trended lower this year, falling 11% to $812.1 million.

While January-to-October exports to Hong Kong were lower versus a year ago — down 6% in volume to 86,943 mt and 18% in value to $525.2 million — October exports were easily the largest of the year in both volume and value, at 11,998 mt and $72.8 million.

Fueled by strong growth in Indonesia and Vietnam, exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region increased 27% in volume to 22,206 mt and 3% in value to $119 million.

Despite a decline to leading destination Egypt, beef liver exports increased 9% to 67,394 mt. Larger volumes to Mexico and the addition of South Africa — a promising liver market that reopened earlier this year — offset lower shipments to Egypt, which takes about 75% of U.S. liver exports.

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