DENVER — U.S. pork and beef exports from January through July lagged behind last year’s pace due to a difficult global economic climate and lingering effects from the H1N1 influenza outbreak, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Pork exports totaled 1.08 million metric tons (2.38 billion lbs.) valued at $2.53 billion, based on the most recent statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S.M.E.F. Although these totals are a respective 10% and 9% below last year’s record-shattering pace, they are still 53% higher in volume and 48% higher in value than in January-July 2007.
Beef exports of 512,053 metric tons (1.13 million lbs.) valued at $1.94 billion are 6% below last year’s volume and 10% lower in value. This difference, however, is primarily due to a very sluggish global market for beef variety meat. Beef muscle-cut exports of 338,217 metric tons (745.6 million lbs.) are slightly above last year’s volume, while trailing in value ($1.445 billion vs. $1.48 billion) by only 2%.
Throughout 2009 Mexico has been a tremendous bright spot for U.S. pork, U.S.M.E.F. said, but the surge in exports to Mexico scaled back recently during the H1N1 influenza outbreak. Pork exports to Mexico through April were running 71% above last year’s pace in terms of volume and were 62% higher in value.
Japan remains the pacesetter for U.S. pork in terms of value, reaching 259,451 metric tons (572 million lbs.) valued at $944.1 million through July. While these results are only slightly above the 2008 volume, they exceed last year’s value by 11%.
U.S. pork exports are holding up fairly well in percentage of total production. Pork and variety meat exports accounted for 22.8% of January-July production, compared to 24.7% during the same period last year. Muscle cut exports accounted for 18.3% of production, compared to 21.5% in January-July 2008.
Several factors keeping U.S. beef exports below last year’s pace include slow demand in Mexico and Canada and a steep decline in beef variety meat exports. January-July exports to Mexico reached only 180,350 metric tons (397.6 million lbs.) valued at $570.7 million — which is 25% below the 2008 volume and 31% below last year’s value. Beef variety meat exports to Mexico have dropped by 35% in volume and 47% in value.
Exports to Canada (about 84,000 metric tons or 185.2 million lbs. valued at $366.4 million) fell 12% behind last year’s volume and by 18% in value. This may be due in part to the steep decline (about 30% from January through August) in live cattle exports from Canada to the U.S., though Canada’s domestic slaughter is also down by 1.5%.
U.S. beef continues to rebuild its presence in Asia, led by an 18% increase in exports to Japan over January-July 2008 and a dramatic increase in exports to Hong Kong.