DENVER – Although December 2012 results still have to be tabulated, US pork exports are ahead of 2011’s record pace in terms of both volume (2.08 million metric tons, +2 percent) and value ($5.81 billion, +5 percent), according to US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng.


In the middle of last year, exports to Japan slowed because of heightened enforcement of the entry prices required under Japan’s gate price system. They have since rebounded and could surpass $2 billion for the first time in a single year, Seng says. He adds the performance of US pork exports has also been very strong in Mexico, Central America and South America.


Meanwhile, 2012 beef export value is on pace to reach a record $5.5 billion despite volume slipping more than 10 percent compared to 2011. Seng said this is due, in part, to lower cattle supplies and higher prices slowing shipments to some markets, but he adds the industry also still faces significant bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-related barriers. Seng hopes Japan will soon ease up on the 20-month cattle age limit on US beef imports.


Seng also iterated the need for access to China. China’s beef-import volume increased by nearly 130 percent in in 2012 (through November, just more than 55,000 metric tons) and more than doubled in value to nearly $219 million, according to the Global trade Atlas,. Primary suppliers were Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and Uruguay.