EXPORTS of U.S. beef and pork enjoyed their best month of the year in June, rising both in volume and value over 2012 levels, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Pork exports in June increased 2.4% in volume to 169,098 metric tons while edging a fraction higher in value to $469.7 million. Beef exports fared even better, rising 8% in volume to 101,720 mt and up 21% in value to $562.3 million.
"There is no question that challenges persist, such as the continued closure of the Russian market, but we are seeing positive signs from key markets, including Japan and Mexico, that are vital trading partners for our industry," USMEF president and chief executive officer Philip Seng said.
Per-head export values increased for both beef and pork, according to the June data. Beef export value was a record $260.21 per head of fed slaughter, a $56.31 increase over June 2012. For pork, the per-head export value was $57.27 in June versus $54.78 last year.
"We are focused on the markets where we can take advantage of opportunities, such as expanded access for U.S. beef in Japan, the rebound in Taiwan and continued growth of the Hong Kong and Central/South America markets," Seng said. "At the same time, we continue relationship-building in Russia for when that market reopens and stand ready to capitalize on the growing demand for high-quality beef in China when access can be restored for the first time since 2003."
Pork exports to Mexico increased 20% in June, pushing the first-half total nearly even with last year's record pace.
"The rebound in Mexico is particularly gratifying," Seng said. "An abundance of domestic pork in Mexico affected demand in the first quarter, and the Russia closure had a negative impact on the prices paid for hams and other cuts sold to processors in Mexico, but we are focusing on this market with a pork imaging campaign that is getting positive reviews from importers and consumers alike."
Strong buying from Mexico likely helped propel heavy hams to more than 90 cents/lb. by early June, a 22% increase compared to last year's prices. However, access to the Russian market will become increasingly critical as pork production increases seasonally.
For the year, U.S. beef exports are down 1% in volume at 542,560 mt but are 6% higher in value at $2.83 billion. Total beef exports (muscle cuts plus variety meats) accounted for 13.6% of U.S. beef production in June, up from 12% last year. For the year, they account for 12.4% of production, about the same as last year.
USMEF said beef muscle cut exports in June accounted for 11% of production, up from 10% in June 2012. For the first half of the year, exports accounted for 9.6% of beef muscle cut production, about the same as last year.
Pork exports for the first half of 2013 were down 7% in volume and value to 1.05 million mt valued at $2.94 billion. Total pork exports (muscle cuts plus variety meats) accounted for 28% of total U.S. pork production in June versus 26% last year. For the year, they equated to 26% of production, down from 28% in 2012.
June pork muscle cut exports accounted for 24% of production, up from 23% in June 2012. For the first half, exports accounted for 21.7% of muscle cut production, down from 24% last year.
One well-known economic truth is that when consumers have more disposable income, one of the first things they do is improve their diets. Generally, that means adding more meat purchases.
According to USDA's baseline projections, developing countries will account for much of the increase in projected growth in global consumption of meats and crops in 2013-22 due largely to projections for rising incomes in those countries.
For meats — including beef, pork and poultry — developing countries are expected to account for 81% of projected growth in global consumption and 92% of the total increase in world imports between 2013 and 2022.
USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) said rising incomes, along with urbanization and changes in consumer preferences, are key factors in both the historical and projected growth in meat demand and trade (Figure).
"As incomes rise, consumers in low- and middle-income countries not only buy more food but also tend to eat more varied diets, increasing their consumption of meat, dairy products, eggs, vegetable oils and processed foods," ERS noted. "Over the next decade, increases in meat consumption in developing countries are projected to average 2.4% annually, compared with 0.9% in developed countries. Per-capita poultry meat consumption in developing countries is projected to rise 2.8% per year during 2013-22, much faster than that of pork (2.2%) and beef (1.9%)."