July was another very strong month for U.S. beef and pork exports, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Both are on pace to set new export value records in 2011 and to eclipse the $5 billion mark for the first time ever.
Beef exports set a new value record in July of $513.1 million, on a volume of 120,424 metric tons. For the first seven months of the year, exports totaled 741,275 metric tons valued at nearly $3.1 billion - an increase of 26% in volume and 40% in value over last year's pace. July exports equated to 16.3% of total U.S. production with a value of $236.88 per head of fed slaughter. This compared to 12% and $159.34 per head last July. For the year, beef exports equated to 14.2% of production with a value of $198.67 per head of fed slaughter.
July pork exports totaled 169,547 metric tons valued at $480.06 million – an increase of 16% in volume and 24% in value. This pushed the 2011 total to 1.25 million metric tons valued at $3.3 billion – increases of 14% and 20%, respectively, over last year. July exports equated to 28.7% of production with a value of $59.35 per head, compared to 23.8% and $45.95 in July 2010. For the year, pork exports equated to 27.3% of production with a per head value of $53.63.
"July was another outstanding month for red meat exports, as we continued to expand the presence of U.S. beef and pork throughout the world," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "This is a testament to the commitment U.S. producers and exporters have made to the international markets. Despite market access restrictions, high tariffs and other trade barriers, the investments we are making in foreign markets are paying tremendous dividends. And this success couldn't come at a better time, as it is adding jobs to the U.S. economy and delivering much-needed returns to our farmers and ranchers. Those producers are dealing with high operating costs, adverse weather and many other significant challenges, and the export markets are clearly the best thing they have going in terms of profitability."
Canada shines as July beef exports race to record heights
Beef exports to Canada had set a new value record in June of nearly $97 million, but that record was quickly eclipsed by a July total of $131.3 million. This remarkable performance pushed Canada into the No. 1 position for 2011 U.S. beef exports in terms of value at $595.2 million – an increase of 54% over last year – on a volume of 110,712 metric tons (up 32%). Despite losing its top ranking, Mexico continued its strong performance with imports valued at $78.4 million in July and a year-over-year total that is 23% higher at $552.7 million. Mexico remains the top volume market for U.S. beef at 147,386 metric tons – an increase of 6% over last year.
Japan was July's second-largest market for beef export value at $86.6 million, and ranks a strong third for the year at $502.9 million – a 50% increase over the first seven months of 2010. In terms of volume, exports to Japan through July totaled 94,428 metric tons – an increase of 45% over last year.
July exports to South Korea slowed from the torrid pace established earlier in the year, reaching a volume of 11,327 metric tons valued at $50.3 million. This is about 12% lower in volume and 23% lower in value than July 2010. For the year, however, exports to Korea were still 55% higher in volume (98,217 metric tons) and 48% higher in value ($431.1 million) than a year ago, making Korea the third-largest market in terms of volume and fourth-largest in value.
Other highlights include:
- Exports to the Middle East were 38% higher than last year in volume (96,449 metric tons) and 49% higher in value ($186.3 million). Egypt accounted for about 83% of the volume and 62% of the value, though growth was also solid in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
- Exports to Russia were 26% higher in volume (41,624 metric tons) and 42% higher in value ($133.6 million). The United States has a larger tariff rate quota for beef in Russia this year, which should help exports remain strong in coming months.
- Hong Kong continues to grow exceptionally well as a market for U.S. beef, with exports increasing 60% in volume (29,802 metric tons) and nearly doubling in value to $133 million.
- Led by a surge in exports to Chile, beef exports to the Central and South America region were up 53% in volume (15,196 metric tons) and 74% in value ($42.6 million). Peru remains a mainstay market for beef variety meat while Guatemala, Chile and Colombia are the top destinations for beef muscle cuts.
Japan, Korea critical to steady growth in pork exports
With an impressive July performance of $157.6 million, U.S. pork exports to Japan shot past the $1 billion mark for the seventh consecutive year. Coming off a record value year of more than $1.6 billion in 2010, exports to Japan were up 11% in volume through July at 287,466 metric tons and up 14% in value at just over $1.1 billion.
Exports to South Korea continued to surge as a wider range of U.S. pork cuts continue to find success in Korea's retail and foodservice sectors. Exports were up 144% in volume through July at 136,359 metric tons and nearly tripled in value to $343.4 million.
Other highlights include:
- While year-over-year exports to Mexico are down 4% in volume and steady in value, it remains a critical market for U.S. pork. Mexico is the leading volume destination for U.S. pork at 300,234 metric tons so far this year and ranks second to Japan in value at $561 million. Mexico's retaliatory duties on bone-in pork shoulders, hams and pork skins were cut in half earlier this summer with a compromise agreement on the NAFTA trucking dispute, but remain a hindrance to U.S. exports. USMEF is hopeful that these duties will be removed entirely next month.
- Exports to China through the first seven months of 2011, which were hindered in 2010 due to lingering restrictions related to A-H1N1 influenza, totaled 152,986 metric tons valued at $244.6 million. This is higher in volume and only slightly lower in value than the pace established in 2008, when pork exports to China reached an all-time high.
- While widely known as a successful pork exporter, Chile also has a rapidly growing appetite for U.S. pork. Exports to Chile in 2011 have climbed 186% in volume (9,103 metric tons) and 138% in value ($21.1 million) over last year. This helped exports to the Central and South America region grow by 19% in volume (38,758 metric tons) and 32% in value ($98.2 million) over last year.
- Exports to the Oceania region so far this year increased 16% in volume (45,921 metric tons) and 41% in value ($146.7 million). Australia accounts for about 90% of these totals, though exports to New Zealand have increased by more than 20% in value to $11.6 million.
Lamb exports higher as emerging markets surface in Central America, Middle East
July lamb exports nearly tripled in volume (2,037 metric tons) over last year and increased 83% in value to just over $3 million. For the year, export volume is up 72% to 11,432 metric tons and value is up 37% to $18.5 million. Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean continue to be the mainstay markets for U.S. lamb, but exports are also showing promise in Costa Rica, Guatemala, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.