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October meat exports show improvement

Pork and beef export volumes still lower than year ago levels.

U.S. pork and beef exports in October edged higher than the previous month, but were still down from a year ago, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports were down 3% year-over-year in volume to 177,191 metric tons (mt), and fell 21 % in value to $447.8 million, reflecting lower global pork prices. Through the first 10 months of the year, exports were down 4% in volume (1.76 million mt) and were 17% lower in value ($4.65 billion).

Similar to the previous two months, USMEF said pork muscle cut exports improved significantly year-over-year in October, increasing 8% to 141,923 mt. But the total results were again held back by weak variety meat exports, which fell 31% to 35,268 mt.

A slowdown in Japan and weak global demand for pork variety meat have dragged on overall exports in 2015,  according to USMEF president and chief executive officer Philip Seng.

“Recent plant relistings will expand opportunities for U.S. pork in China, which is a high-volume market for variety meat,” he said. “But the global pork variety meat market is intensely price-competitive, especially with very large volumes currently emerging from the European Union, which are further buoyed by the weak euro.”

October beef exports rebounded to some degree from their low September totals, but were still down 14% from a year ago in volume (94,524 mt) and fell 26% (to $508.2 million) compared to the record-high value posted in October 2014 ($687.1 million). Through the first 10 months of 2015, beef exports were down 12% in volume to 877,229 mt and were 10% lower in value at $5.28 billion.

Seng said total beef imports in Japan from all suppliers have been down about 6% this year, but added that both Australia and Mexico have made gains in Japan while imports from other suppliers have been down significantly.

“Both countries enjoy lower tariffs in Japan through their respective economic partnership agreements, and the year-to-date results certainly show the importance of this advantage,” he explained.

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