Meat Export Values for July Steady; Volumes Move Lower

Meat Export Values for July Steady; Volumes Move Lower

Pork exports down only slightly despite rise in prices; beef demand in Asian markets heats up

Exports of red meat from the U.S. in July slowed in volume though values remained steady, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said Friday.

Despite the slowdown, exports remain on a strong pace, according to statistics released by USDA, USMEF says.

July beef exports fell 15% in volume to 101,799 metric tons, although this was in comparison to large totals in July 2013. July export value was steady at $621.7 million. For January through July, beef exports were still 4% higher in volume at 687,752 mt and remained on a record pace in value at $3.89 billion, up13%.

Pork exports down only slightly despite rise in prices; beef demand in Asian markets heats up

Pork export volume was down 3% in July to 173,270 mt, while value was up 14% to $573.5 million. For January through July, exports established a record pace in both volume at 1.32 million mt, up 7%, and value at $4 billion, marking the first time pork export value has exceeded $4 billion before August.

Asian markets strong for U.S. beef
January-July beef exports equated to 14% of total production and 11% for muscle cuts only, USMEF said.

Export value per head of fed slaughter was $298.56 in July – down slightly from the June record but still up more than $25 year-over-year. For January-July, export value per head was $272.70, up $31.25, USMEF said.

"Demand for U.S. beef in Asian markets has continued to strengthen this year, adding further value to cuts that are popular there and underutilized domestically," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "With our limited supplies, competition for these cuts among Asian buyers contributes greatly to U.S. cattle prices. USMEF continues to work with our industry partners to educate the trade about alternative cuts and merchandising ideas, so that we can deliver value to our Asian customers even in these times of historically tight supplies."

Six-month highlights for U.S. beef:
• Exports to South Korea totaled 65,792 mt valued at $445.4 million as demand for U.S. beef strengthened across all sectors and U.S. beef gained market share.

• Despite slumping in July, exports to Hong Kong reached 81,372 mt valued at $564.6 million, up 35% and 53%, respectively.

• While export volume to Japan was moderately lower, it remained the leading destination for U.S. beef exports in both volume and value. Japan has been a difficult market for other suppliers this year, importing less beef from all other main exporters while U.S. beef continued to gain market share, USMEF reports.

• July exports to Taiwan increased 83% in volume and nearly doubled in value, pushing year-to-date totals to 19,437 mt valued at $162.2 million.

• Though beef export volume to Mexico slowed modestly in July, export value for the month still reached $94.6 million. For January through July, exports to Mexico were up 23% in volume and 36% in value. USMEF is concerned, however, about possible export data issues in the first half of 2013, which means that these year-over-year increases for Mexico could be overstated.

Pork highlights >>

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Pork exports hold strong through July
January-July pork exports equated to 28% of total production and 23% for muscle cuts only – each up 2 percentage points from a year ago.

July export value per head of slaughter was $67.81 – down from its record high in June but still up 23% from a year ago. January-July export value was up 21% to $64.45.

Seng noted that pork exports' record pace in both volume and value so far this year was achieved despite record-high U.S. prices and intense competition in many key markets. High prices for domestic pork in most regions – other than Europe and China – also helped stimulate global demand for U.S. pork.

"Pork exports have overcome some severe price disadvantages this year, especially in Asian markets where we compete head-to-head with European pork," he explained. "U.S. prices began to moderate in August, so these price gaps have now been narrowed or eliminated. Going forward, this should relieve some of the price pressure on U.S. exporters."

Mainstay markets Japan, Mexico and South Korea, along with emerging markets such as Colombia, helped offset lower exports to China/Hong Kong.

Six-month U.S. pork export highlights:
• Exports to Mexico remained well ahead of last year's record pace, increasing 12% in volume and 38% in value.

• Despite a large increase in Japanese imports of European pork, U.S. exports performed well in leading value market Japan. Pork muscle cut exports to Japan reached 245,497 mt valued at $1.13 billion.

• A similar situation unfolded in Korea, where despite aggressive competition from the EU, total U.S. pork exports increased 31% in volume and 49% in value.

• Colombia is now the pacesetter for U.S. pork in the Central and South America region, with exports up 72% in volume and 88% in value.

While Russia did not reopen to U.S. pork until early March, and then only to pork from two U.S. slaughter plants, exports through July still reached 32,163 mt valued at $116.7 million.

In July alone, exports were 12,910 mt valued at $49.4 million. Exports to Russia were suspended on Aug. 7 due to Russia's import ban on many agricultural products from the United States, Canada, the EU, Norway and Australia.

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