Export value of April pork, beef over '09 levels

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER – U.S. pork/pork variety meat export value increased by about 7% over April 2009 and reached its highest level since November 2008, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (U.S.M.E.F.). Beef/beef variety meat export value topped its year-ago level by 27% and was approximately 10% higher than in April 2003, the last year of “pre-B.S.E.” market access.

April pork/pork variety meat exports totaled 156,211 metric tons (344.4 million lbs.) valued at $400.95 million, bringing the cumulative January-April total to 625,004 metric tons (1.38 billion lbs.) valued at $1.51 billion, according to statistics released by the U.S.D.A. and compiled by the U.S.M.E.F. April beef plus beef variety meat exports totaled 82,827 metric tons (182.6 million lbs.) valued at $311.3 million, bringing the cumulative 2010 total to 307,949 metric tons (678.9 million lbs.) valued at $1.1 billion.

Pork muscle-cut value ($345 million) was 11% above April 2009, while beef muscle-cut value ($268 million) was up 37% from a year ago.

U.S. pork exports had shown mixed results in the two largest international markets through the first quarter of the year. While Mexico was running well ahead of its record-breaking 2009 pace, and exports to Japan took a step back due to higher domestic supplies and increased foreign competition.

Both countries, however, had a strong positive impact on the April export results. Mexico was up only slightly in terms of pork/pork variety meat volume (41,094 metric tons or 90.6 million lbs.), but value increased by 22% to $73.6 million. The increase in muscle exports was even greater — 27% in volume (28,154 metric tons or 62.1 million lbs.) and 53% in value ($56.1 million). For the year, Mexico continued to top last year’s pace by 6% in volume (187,991 metric tons or 414.4 million lbs.) and 25% in value ($331.1 million). For muscle cuts only, Mexico is up by 25% in volume (128,615 metric tons or 283.5 million lbs.) and 47% in value ($250.8 million).

Japan, the perennial value leader for U.S. pork, was up 9% in volume (to 42,271 metric tons or 93.2 million lbs.) and 8% in value ($159 million) over April 2009. For muscle cuts only, April exports to Japan increased by 6% in volume (40,024 metric tons or 88.2 million lbs.) and 8% in value ($155.9 million). For the year, Japan closed the gap on last year’s pace but was still down 11% in volume (140,544 metric tons or 309.8 million lbs.) and 7% in value ($528.8 million). For muscle cuts only, Japan trails 2009 by 8% in volume (133,850 metric tons or 295.1 million lbs.) and 6% in value ($516.4 million).

While economic conditions remain difficult for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports are thriving in all other key global markets. For the year, Mexico remains the No. 1 market in terms of both volume (77,027 metric tons or 169.8 million lbs. and value ($246.9 million) but these totals are down by 25% and 27% respectively compared to the first four months of 2009.

Despite dramatic gains in many overseas markets, Canada remains the No. 2 destination for U.S. beef. Beef/beef variety meat exports to Canada are up 13% in volume (45,563 metric tons or 100.5 million lbs.) and 17% in value ($199.4 million) compared to January-April 2009. April export value to Canada ($59.9 million) pulled within just 4% of Mexico ($62.2 million).

U.S. lamb export volume has been fairly strong throughout 2010, but export value has slumped. Signs of a turnaround were evident in April, as lamb/lamb variety meat exports gained 44% in volume and 36% in value over April 2009. For the year, export volume was up 25% while export value was flat compared to January-April 2009. Mexico is this year’s growth market for U.S. lamb while exports to the other two mainstay markets — the Caribbean and Canada — are considerably lower.
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