Challenges Frame 2013’s Opening Red Meat Export Report

US - The first month of 2013 offered a mix of good news and challenges for exports of US beef and pork during January, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
calendar icon 13 March 2013
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Beef exports continued the trend shown in 2012 with higher export values on lower volumes while pork exports improved slightly from December’s levels but remained behind year-ago totals.

Led by sharply higher exports to Hong Kong, Canada and Taiwan, and solid growth to Japan, beef exports for January rose 9.3 per cent in value from year-ago levels on slightly lower (-3.2 per cent) volumes.

Pork exports rebounded slightly from December, but closed 7.6 per cent lower in value on 11.7 per cent smaller volumes compared to January 2012. The ASEAN region was the bright spot with 17.1 per cent higher volumes and slightly higher (2.7 per cent) value.

"The year ahead will offer no shortage of challenges to red meat exports, which will require our industry to be creative and aggressive," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “On the beef side, we are still dealing with market access barriers in Saudi Arabia and significant obstacles in Russia, but there are signs for optimism in the months ahead with expanded beef access to Japan and Hong Kong that will provide a boost.”

Also in Asia, Mr Seng noted that an overabundance of domestic pork in South Korea is driving down demand for imports there while China’s aggressive efforts to build its domestic pork industry appear to be bearing fruit as its need for imports declines.

Mr Seng also indicated that the continued devaluation of the Japanese yen, which has fallen 20 per cent in value versus the US dollar since last summer, will be a factor in purchasing patterns by this key trading partner for both beef and pork.

Beef export highlights

  • For the month of January, US beef exports totaled 86,608 metric tons valued at $443.8 million. The decline in volume versus January 2012 was more than accounted for by a 91.5 per cent drop in exports to Russia, which has been delisting US beef plants for detection of growth promotant residues.
  • Canada emerged as the top volume and value market for US beef exports in January, buying 16,586 metric tons (up 32 per cent from last year) valued at $102.9 million (42 per cent increase).
  • Hong Kong saw its US beef purchases rise 144 per cent in volume and 115 per cent in value to 7,004 metric tons valued at $37.1 million – pushing it to No. 6 on the beef export list.
  • Taiwan continued its recovery as an export market with its January purchases rising 14.5 per cent in volume and 39.7 per cent in value (3,167 metric tons valued at $22.6 million).
  • The value of beef exports to South Korea rose 12.2 per cent to $58.2 million on slightly lower volumes (down 1 per cent to 11,602 metric tons).
  • Anticipating the 1 February expansion of the market to beef from cattle under 30 months of age, Japan increased its US beef purchases 5.5 per cent in volume and 21.6 per cent in value to 10,217 metric tons valued at $72.5 million.

Pork export highlights

  • For the month of January, pork exports totaled 186,681 metric tons valued at $523.7 million – declines of 11.7 per cent in volume and 7.6 per cent in value from last January, but up slightly from December’s totals of 186,135 metric tons valued at $515.9 million.
  • Japan remains the value leader, buying 37,745 metric tons of US pork (-9.5 per cent) valued at $173.6 million (+1.7 per cent).
  • Mexico remains the volume leader, purchasing 55,103 metric tons (-9 per cent) valued at $102.7 million (-6.9 per cent).
  • Russia posted the largest pork export gains at 3,314 metric tons (+8.2 per cent) valued at $10.2 million (+9.7 per cent), although some of that purchase may have been made in anticipation of Russia’s closing of its borders to US pork and beef in February.
  • The ASEAN region posted a 17.1 per cent gain in pork volume (to 4,921 metric tons) and a 2.7 per cent bump in value to $10.8 million.

"Looking ahead, USMEF is focusing on building demand for chilled and branded pork in both Japan and Korea as well as overall consumer demand for pork in Mexico," said Mr Seng. "We will see benefits from these campaigns in the year ahead."

Lamb export highlights

Exports of US lamb also were mixed, up 16.6 per cent in value over last January’s totals on lower volumes – down 28.2 per cent. Totals for the month were 984 metric tons valued at $2.4 million.

Mexico remains the top export destination, buying 851 metric tons (86.5 per cent of total exports) valued at $1.6 million (64.3 per cent of total value). Sales to Mexico rose 37.2 per cent in value on 16.7 per cent lower volume for the month.

Canada and the Caribbean are the No. 2 and No. 3 regions for US lamb exports, and both posted double-digit declines from year-ago levels.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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