U.S. beef exports in September remained ahead of 2012 levels, but pork exports continued to face “a number of challenges,” according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Year-over-year gains in beef exports to Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan of 102 percent, 65 percent and 37 percent, respectively, drove a nearly 5 percent increase in total U.S. beef exports, including variety meats, in September, which reached 94,698 metric tons, as well as a 1 percent improvement for the year-to-date. The value of total U.S. beef exports also increased, up 14 percent for the month, to $505.5 million, and up 10 percent so far this year. The value gains were also powered by market improvement in Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan, as well as South Korea.
“On the beef side, the industry aggressively pursued the opportunities available for U.S. product when market access was expanded in Japan and Hong Kong, and we are seeing exciting growth in both those markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, in a written statement.
Japan has remained the top export market for U.S. beef in 2013, followed by Mexico and Canada. Year-to-date exports to Japan were up 52 percent in volume and 35 percent in value, accounting for 21.3 percent of the total volume of U.S. beef exports and 24.2 percent of the value.
Notably, Australia recently sold record amounts of beef and goat meat to China, as U.S. beef producers have been locked out of the country. China, the world’s largest consumer market, has banned U.S. beef since December 2003, when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as “mad cow disease,” was discovered in a cow in Washington state. The U.S. is in the process of realigning its mad cow disease regulations with global standards.
Meanwhile, U.S. pork exports received a boost from sales to the China and Hong Kong region, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations area, but continued access restrictions to Russia and a “very competitive” market in Japan kept pork exports down more than 9 percent in volume and 5 percent in value for the month, and 5 percent in both categories in the first nine months of 2013. Pork exports, including variety meats, for the month totaled 166,650 metric tons valued at 478.7 million.
“On the pork side, we are continuing to face challenges from strong competition in Japan that is driving down our market share, and access issues with Russia continue to hamper our industry, both in pork and beef,” Seng said.
Mexico remained the top volume market for U.S. pork in 2013, with volume up 1 percent to 446,827 metric tons and value up 4 percent to $849.8 million, but Japan was the No. 1 value market at $1.4 billion, a 6 percent decline year-over-year, with volume down 8 percent to 317,710 metric tons.