Although the U.S. drought and sluggish economic conditions overseas will impact the volume of beef, pork and lamb exports this year, the value of red meat exports could reach new highs, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
“The industry is focusing on 2013 as a year of great opportunities to increase the value those agricultural exports bring to exporters, processors, producers and the broad American agricultural industry that supports them,” Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, stated in a release.
Meat exports in 2013 will continue to reflect the 2012 drought, the worst in 50 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 80 percent of agricultural land was affected. Corn production declined nearly 13 percent from the 2011-12 crop year. Soybean production was down 2.5 percent.
The resulting shortage of livestock feed, and the high cost of the animal feed, contributed to herd culling and reduced availability of meat for export.
The greatest impact of the herd culling will be experienced in 2013. Last year, pork exports in the first 11 months were on track to exceed 2011’s record highs for both volume and value. Beef exports in the first 11 months of 2012 were down 11 percent in volume, but the value of exports was at an all-time high due to high prices.
For 2013, the USMEF projects that the volume and value of pork exports will increase 5 percent over 2012’s record numbers. Beef exports in 2013 are projected to increase 9 percent in volume and 13 percent in value.
USMEF’s analysis of conditions in the top U.S. export markets is generally positive. Japan is expected to allow expanded access for U.S. beef. Japan in 2000 accounted for 43 percent of U.S. beef exports. The market has declined due to various restrictions, but no other exporting nation has stepped in to fill the void, so the expected Japanese government action this year provides an opportunity for the U.S. to regain lost sales.
U.S. beef does not have access to mainland China, but last year beef exports to Hong Kong and China remained close to the 2011 record numbers, and USMEF anticipates continued growth in the coming years.
China is, however, a major market for U.S. pork. China is the world’s largest producer as well as consumer of pork. The U.S. accounts for about one-third of China’s pork imports, and shipments should be strong again in 2013.
Mexico is the top market for U.S. pork, in terms of volume, and exports in 2013 could exceed last year’s record level. With per capita pork consumption in Mexico of 25 pounds per year, compared to 47 pounds in the U.S., USMEF sees significant growth potential. Beef exports to Mexico will not expand as rapidly as pork due to higher prices this year for beef.
Red meat exports to South Korea were constrained due to the sluggish economy there and a rebound in South Korean production. However, 2013 marks the second year of the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement. With tariff reductions on U.S. red meat to occur this year and in subsequent years, U.S. exports to South Korea should continue to increase.