2012 record year for beef, pork exports

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – US beef and pork exports set value records in 2012, according to year-end statistics compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports set volume and value records in 2012, USMEF reported. US Pork exports reached 2.26 million metric tons — up slightly from the record set in 2011— with a value of $6.3 billion, 3.5 percent increase over the 2011 record.

The per-head export value of US pork exports reached a record $55.87, up 1 percent from 2011. For the year, exports accounted for 27 percent of total pork production and 23.4 percent of pork muscle cut production vs. 27.5 percent and 23 percent, respectively, in 2011.

Beef exports in 2012 rose 2 percent in value to a record-high $5.51 billion on 12 percent lower volumes (1.13 million mt).

The per-head export value for beef increased $10.36 to reach $216.73. Contributing to that was a new monthly record value of $242.65 set in December.

For the year, US beef exports accounted for 12.7 percent of total beef production compared to 14.2 percent in 2011, according USMEF. Muscle cut production accounted for 9.8 percent, compared to 11 percent in 2011.

“The export markets are a critical profit center for the industry at a time when the industry is challenged by high input costs and, on the beef side, a historically low herd size,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “2012 saw record highs for per-head export values for both pork and beef at a time when those returns were sorely needed by producers.”

In addition to value records, one-year export records were set in several key markets, including:

• Mexico: 600,949 mt (12 percent increase) valued at $1.126 billion (8 percent increase)
• Canada: 235,604 mt (14 percent increase) valued at $855.7 million (16 percent increase)
• Central/South America: 90,897 mt (26 percent increase) valued at $227.9 million (22 percent increase)
• Australia/New Zealand: 76,801 mt (9 percent increase) valued at $236.1 million (5 percent increase)

• Russia: 80,408 mt (10 percent increase) valued at $307.5 million (20 percent increase)
• Hong Kong: 65,033 mt (28 percent increase) valued at $339.5 million (43 percent increase)
• Central/South America: 33,891 mt (31 percent increase) valued at $134.1 million (57 percent increase)
• Canada: $1.177 billion (14 value increase even though volume dipped 6 percent to 180,015 mt)

The 2012 figures point to a positive outlook for 2013, according to Seng.

“There are many factors that go into projecting 12 months into the future, but as we continue to focus our efforts on markets that offer the greatest potential for growth, we are optimistic that 2013 will give us the opportunity to maintain the momentum we have seen in pork exports while rebounding in beef,” he said.

Japan re-opening its market to US beef under 30 months of age may contribute to a projected growth in beef exports of 4 percent in volume (to 1.17 million mt) valued at more than $6 billion, according to USMEF. This may be offset if issues with exports to Russia are not resolved. Russia imposed a ban on US chilled and frozen meat products.

USMEF forecasts steady to slight growth for pork, with exports likely to still exceed 2.2 million mt valued at more than $6 billion. Key risk factors include Russia and domestic production in China. On the bullish side, continued growth to Mexico is also expected to boost profits.

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