WASHINGTON – Growth of US meat exports in some markets was enough to offset trade barriers and sluggish demand in other markets, according to the US Meat Export Federation. US beef and pork segments continued a trend of increased value on lower volumes, according to USMEF data. Pork exports recorded a slight decline.
Beef exports grew 5 percent in value to $430 million compared to a year ago despite a slight decline in volume to 86,367 metric tons, according to USMEF. February pork exports eased 5 percent in volume to 178,510 mt and 6 percent in value to $494.6 million compared February 2012.
“The good news is that the long-awaited change in beef access to Japan came through in February,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “Conversely, trade barriers and other obstacles seem to be emerging at a rather alarming rate in 2013. Sluggish economic conditions in certain markets also create a challenge, but this is why we have made such a strong effort to diversify our destinations for red meat exports over the years. As some of our key markets struggle, growth in other regions has helped provide balance.”
Beef exports to Canada started strong in 2013, jumping 31 percent to 31,464 mt valued at $200.2 million, an increase of 46 percent through February, USMEF reported. Other markets performing well above year-ago levels include:
• Hong Kong, 15,821 mt (+144 percent) valued at $85.5 million (+126 percent).
• Taiwan, 5,708 mt (+16 percent) valued at $42.6 million (+39 percent).
• Philippines, 2,463 mt (+19 percent) valued at $11.3 million (+45 percent).
• Dominican Republic, 617 mt (+41 percent) valued at $5.6 million (+70 percent).
Exports to Japan recorded small gains for the first two months of 2013. Access for US beef exports to Japan was expanded on Feb. 1 to include beef from cattle less than 30 months of age (up from 21 months). USMEF said expectations for February were very high, however the improvement in market access didn’t trigger an increase in export activity late February, according to weekly export data. USMEF expects the impact of expanded market access to Japan to be more pronounced in March. Exports of US beef to Japan moved 3 percent higher in volume (19,918 mt) and 12 percent higher in value ($137.9 million) for the year.
US beef exports to Russia tumbled 82 percent in volume and 94 percent in value on the ractopamine impasse. After a record year in 2012, beef exports to Russia through February totaled only 1,693 mt valued at $2.1 million. The drop in beef exports to Russia alone more than accounted for the overall volume decline in February, according to USMEF.
Additionally, exports to Mexico, the former No. 1 market for US beef, sharply declined in volume by 21 percent to 29,933 mt, and 23 percent in value at $130.6 million.
US pork exports to Mexico and Japan also declined in February, according to USMEF. Pork exports through February totaled 365,191 mt valued at just under $1.02 billion – a decline of 8 percent in volume and 7 percent in value compared to a year ago. Pork export value in February declined slightly to an average of $57.56 per head compared to $58.17 in 2012, USMEF reported. Muscle cut production accounted for 22 percent of Pork exports in February, and 27.9 percent when adding variety meats. This compares to 24 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, in February 2012, USMEF said.
Pork exports Mexico, the leading volume market for US pork, slowed from the record pace established in 2012, declining 13 percent in volume (98,237 mt) and 12 percent in value ($183.5 million) through February, USMEF said. Japan also saw lower results, falling 11 percent in volume (71,248 mt) and 6 percent in value ($320.1 million).
Exports to the China/Hong Kong region were relatively steady, falling 2 percent in volume (76,402 mt) but increasing 1 percent in value ($160.4 million). Exports to Canada were slightly ahead of last year’s pace in both volume (37,339 mt, +2 percent) and value ($130.6 million, +1 percent), according to USMEF.
Markets that performed well above 2012 levels through February included:
• Philippines, 7,851 mt (+42 percent) valued at $18.3 million (32 percent).
• Colombia, 3,598 mt (+62 percent) valued at $9.2 million (+51 percent).
• Honduras, 3,559 mt (+17 percent) valued at $8.7 million (+24 percent).
• Dominican Republic, 2,448 mt (+28 percent) valued at $5.7 million (+44 percent).
• New Zealand, 1,780 mt (+76 percent) valued at $5.1 million (+57 percent).
The impact of Russia’s ractopamine restrictions was not as dramatic for pork, though exports through February declined 15 percent in volume (7,037 mt) and 16 percent in value ($21.1 million). Sluggish consumer spending and a surge in domestic meat production continues to stifle demand for US pork in South Korea, USMEF reported. Exports through February retreated 30 percent in volume (25,540 mt) and 32 percent in value ($70.7 million) compared to a year ago.