April US pork exports strong; beef exports highest this year

by Staff
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DENVER – US pork exports in April increased a little in volume (183,618 metric tons) from one year ago and 4 percent higher in value ($509.2 million). This total is keeping 2012 exports ahead of 2011’s record pace.

Pork exports through the first four months of the year are 6 percent higher than last year in volume (781,676 metric tons) and 16 percent higher in value ($2.17 billion), according to USDA statistics compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.

Despite a decline of 8 percent in volume (94,734 metric tons) compared to last year, April was the strongest month for US beef exports in 2012. April export value totaled $469.6 million, which is 9 percent higher than one year ago. US beef exports from January through April increased 6 percent in value to $1.72 billion despite a 10 percent decline in volume (361,122 metric tons).

Meanwhile, on a per-head-slaughtered basis, April pork exports equated to $57.69 – down slightly from the first quarter of this year, however, still more than one dollar higher than in April 2011. Exports equated to $58.84 per head for the first four months of 2012.

April pork-muscle cut exports amounted to 24 percent of production – 27.7 percent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat. These ratios were roughly the same as April 2011 and slightly lower than the first quarter of 2012.

Though April was the slowest month this year for US pork exports to Mexico, volume was up 30 percent over April 2011 and value was 18 percent higher; through April, 2012 exports to Mexico increased 19 percent in volume (207,095 metric tons) and 18 percent in value ($377.4 million) over 2011’s record pace; April exports to the China/Hong Kong region were the second-largest this year, leading to results for the first four months of the year totaling one-third higher in volume (154,884 metric tons) and 84 percent higher in value ($312.8 million) than the same period in 2011.

Although January-April exports to Japan were down slightly in volume (161,933 metric tons) from last year, they were 14 percent ahead of 2011’s record-value pace at just under $700 million. April exports to Russia, in 2012 were 20 percent higher in volume (25,903 metric tons) and 28 percent higher in value ($78.7 million) than one year ago.

Exports to South Korea through April dropped 31 percent in volume (67,061 metric tons) and 20 percent in value ($192.7 million) from one year ago.

Although US beef export volume has slowed from the record pace of 2011, higher export value has been achieved in nearly every major market. Export value per head of fed slaughter reached almost $233 in April vs. $203.70 one year ago and averaged $210.77 during the first four months of 2012.

US beef exports in April amounted to almost 14 percent of production when including muscle cuts and variety meat, and 11 percent of production for muscle cuts only.

April exports to Russia were the largest this year, pushing 2012 exports 20 percent higher in volume (24,024 metric tons) and 92 percent higher in value ($100.5 million). Exports to Japan dropped 10 percent in volume (40,131 metric tons) through April but still achieved an 8 percent increase in value to $265.4 million.

US lamb exports were off 31 percent in volume (4,243 metric tons) and 16 percent in value ($8.2 million) through April, due in part to weak demand in the Caribbean. April volume (948 metric tons) dropped 55 percent from a year ago while value was down 48 percent to $1.8 million.

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