Meat export volumes lower in August, but value remains strong

Pork and Beef export volume dropped in August for the second straight month

 

For the second consecutive month, August export value for U.S. beef and pork increased year-over-year despite declines in volume. Export value for both products remains on a record pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

August beef exports overcame a 3% decline in volume to 102,456 mt. 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 at 790,208 mt. and 13% in value at $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 – but 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 value races to new records

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 percent 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.”

Price trends, Russian import ban impact August pork exports

Pork export value per head of slaughter was $64.08 in August, up 22% and $65.29 for January through August, increasing 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. valued at $133.5 million. For the first eight months of the year, exports to Mexico maintained a record pace of 444,685 mt valued at $1.02 billion.

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