May is mixed bag for US meat exports

by Meat&Poultry staff
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CENTENNIAL, Colo. – US beef exports moved 3 percent higher in volume in May, and up 9 percent in value. However, pork exports dropped 3 percent in volume and 3.6 percent in value, according to statistics released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Not being able to ship US beef and pork to Russia is putting a damper on US red-meat exports so far this year. US beef export volume for May (excluding Russia) increased 12 percent and export volume for the first five months of 2013 increased 3.5 percent instead of falling 3 percent.

US pork exports in May increased 3.5 percent in volume over last year’s totals, providing Russia is excluded. Export volume for January through May 2013 would be down 5.8 percent instead of 9 percent if Russia is not included. An oversupply of domestic pork in many major export markets is still posing a challenge to US exports.

In May, total US beef (muscle-cut and variety-meat) exports increased 3 percent vs. last year’s levels to 97,820 metric tons valued at $513.6 million, a 9 percent increase. They accounted for 10 percent of beef muscle-cut production and 12.7 percent of beef and variety meat production, similar levels to last year.

Export volumes for January through May dropped 3 percent to 440,840 metric tons valued at $2.26 billion, a 3 percent increase over last year’s record-setting pace.

The beef exports value in May equated to $231.67 per head of fed slaughter, up from $207.09 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $220.59 per head, up more than $10 from last year’s total of $209.97.

Markets where access for US beef has improved this year led the way in May. Japan jumped 74 percent to 28,122 metric tons, just 8 percent shy of totals posted in May 2003.

May pork exports improved vs. 2013 trends, but they still slipped 3.3 percent to 180,637 metric tons valued at $505.4 million, a 3.6 percent drop from last year. They accounted for 23 percent of muscle-cut production and 26.4 percent of muscle cuts plus variety meat, similar to last May.

Exports were down 9 percent to 882,905 metric tons valued at $2.47 billion, down 8 percent, for the first five months of 2013.

Pork export value in May equated to $54.85 per head of fed slaughter, down from $56.47 last year. The year-to-date export value averaged $53.14 per head, down from $58.36 last year.

May pork exports were led by another strong month for Mexico (52,295 metric tons, +11 percent) and steady year-over-year volumes to Japan (37,108 metric tons).

Lamb exports reached three consecutive months above the 1,200 metric tons per month mark with 1,472 metric tons exported in May, an increase of 70 percent over last year. This put January through May totals up 14 percent to 5,840 metric tons with value over $13 million, up 30 percent. Export growth has been led by top markets Mexico and Canada, but also to Bermuda and Saudi Arabia.
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