February U.S. pork and beef exports strong

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER — In February, a 45% jump in pork variety-meat exports helped overcome a slight decline in pork muscle cuts to help total pork exports achieve a 4.7% increase in value over February 2008, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. For the month on a year-over-year basis, total beef exports were up 4% in volume and just under 1% in value. Although beef muscle-cut exports increased 9%, beef variety meat declined slightly.

Slumping currencies in Mexico and Canada affected U.S. beef exports to those markets, but that situation is starting to improve, said Philip Seng, U.S.M.E.F. president and c.e.o.  "We are also seeing some impact from the declining volume of live cattle imports from those two countries, which is increasing their own domestic beef supplies," he said.

Total U.S. pork exports in February were valued at $368.2 million. Pork muscle-cut exports ($305.6 million) declined by about 1% compared to last year, but still remained 45% above the February 2007 value. In terms of volume, pork plus pork variety-meat exports of 158,471 metric tons (349.3 million lbs.) represented an increase of 1% over February 2008 and 57% over February 2007.

Japan remains the top-performing value market for U.S. pork. Its February total of 37,774 metric tons (83.3 million lbs.) valued at $138.6 million outpaced February 2008 by 18% in volume and 32% in value.

Increased beef exports to South Korea and Vietnam helped overcome declines in the beef industry’s leading markets of Mexico and Canada. February beef plus beef variety-meat exports increased 4% in volume (66,155 metric tons or 145.8 million lbs.) and showed a slight increase in value ($220.5 million) over February 2008. Beef muscle-cut exports increased by 9% in volume to 40,964 metric tons (or 90.3 million lbs.) and 7% in value to 172.9 million, while beef variety-meat exports dropped slightly in volume to 25,191 metric tons (or 55.5 million lbs.) and declined nearly 17% in value to $47.6 million.

Year-to-date, beef muscle-cut exports have increased 11% in volume and value over the same period last year, while variety-meat exports have declined 11% in volume and 20% in value.

Toward the end of 2008, beef exports to Korea slumped, with December results totaling 3,335 metric tons (7.4 million lbs.) valued at $15.2 million. But 2009 has seen a rebound in exports to Korea, with the January-February monthly average now standing at 6,550 metric tons (14.4 million lbs.) with an average value of 24.9 million. Korea is third among all destinations for U.S. beef — trailing only Mexico and Canada — in both volume and value.

January-February exports of U.S. lamb climbed 50% in volume to 1,528 metric tons or 3.4 million lbs. and 72% in value ($5.6 million) over the same period last year. The Caribbean region has accounted for about 69% of this value, led by Bermuda and a strong surge in exports to the Netherlands Antilles. Lamb exports to Canada increased by 132% in volume and 44% in value over 2008, with exports to Mexico increasing by 12% in volume and 32% in value.

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