September Pork Exports Regain Momentum; Beef Exports Struggling


September pork plus pork variety meat exports reached nearly 154,000 metric tons (339.5 million pounds) valued at $347.8 million, the highest volume since April 2009, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

September beef plus beef variety meat exports were down slightly from August, with the January-September cumulative total falling further behind last year’s pace, as beef exports continue to struggle amid market access restrictions and difficult global economic conditions

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While January-September pork exports contain significant bright spots – including a continued strong performance in Mexico and Japan as well as renewed strength in Canada, Russia and the Greater China region – they trail last year’s record pace by 11 percent in volume (1.366 million metric tons or 3.01 billion pounds) and 12 percent in value ($3.195 billion).

Mexico’s September volume surpassed September 2008 by nearly 37 percent, putting Mexico’s January-September export volume at 369,376 metric tons (814.3 million pounds) valued at $547.7 million – an increase of 38 percent and 15 percent, respectively, over the first three quarters of 2008.

“It has been a remarkable year for U.S. pork in Mexico, especially when you consider the disruption we experienced in April and May due to H1N1 influenza,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “USMEF worked successfully during this time to maintain our market access in Mexico, and then focused on rebuilding consumer confidence and demand. It is very gratifying to see these efforts paying off and to see the market respond so well to our product.”

Much of the decline is attributable to the weak global market for beef variety meat, as January-September exports trail last year’s totals by 22 percent in volume and 39 percent in value. Muscle cut exports have fared better, but still trail their 2008 pace by 6 percent in volume and 11 percent in value.

Beef exports to Japan (69,945 metric tons or 154.2 million pounds valued at nearly $360 million) are 22 percent higher in volume and 21 percent higher in value than last year. September exports continued to outperform 2008, but at a slightly slower pace due to the seasonal decline in availability of slaughter-ready cattle under 21 months of age.

“We are encouraged by the demand U.S. beef is generating in Japan, and the fact that importers, retailers and consumers are clamoring for our product,” Seng said. “But this surge in demand further highlights the need for expanded access in the market if we are going to fully rebuild the presence of U.S. beef in Japan.”

Taiwan, where U.S. beef exports had been slumping early in the year, continued its rebound in September with exports exceeding September 2008 by 26 percent in volume and 63 percent in value. These results pulled Taiwan to within 1 percent of the export value achieved in the first three quarters of 2008.

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