Pork exports reached 227,955 metric tons (mt) in March, up 16 percent year-over-year and topping the previous monthly high set in November 2016. Export value was $586.6 million, up 22 percent. For the first quarter, pork exports were up 17 percent in volume (627,647 mt) and 22 percent in value ($1.58 billion).
March exports accounted for 28 percent of total pork production and 23.3 percent for muscle cuts only, up from 25.4 percent and 22 percent, respectively, last year. First-quarter ratios were also significantly higher at 27.2 percent and 22.6 percent, compared to 23.9 percent and 20 percent in 2016. Export value per hog slaughtered averaged $54.93 in March, up 15 percent year-over-year, while the first-quarter average increased 18 percent to $52.42.
Beef exports totaled 105,310 mt in March, up 18 percent year-over-year, with value increasing 22 percent to $588.2 million. First-quarter beef exports were up 15 percent in volume (292,215 mt) and 19 percent in value ($1.61 billion).
March exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total beef production and just under 10 percent for muscle cuts only, each up slightly from last year. For the first quarter, the percentage of total beef production exported was down slightly from a year ago (12.4 percent vs. 12.5 percent) despite an increase for muscle cuts (9.8 percent vs. 9.4 percent). Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $270.14 in March, up 11 percent from a year ago, while the first-quarter average increased 10 percent to $267.71 per head.
“Entering 2017 with record-large pork production and an uptick in beef slaughter, we knew this ‘wall of U.S. meat’ presented a challenge for our industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “So the fact that first-quarter export volumes are higher than a year ago is not surprising, but it’s important to look beyond that – to the higher percentage of production being exported and the strong return on those exports. The U.S. is not just moving more meat internationally because we have more available. Our products are commanding solid prices and winning back market share in many key destinations, even with a strong U.S. dollar and many trade barriers still in place. But our competitors are working every day to reverse this trend, so we must aggressively expand and defend our international customer base.”
Beef exports move higher in Asian and North American markets
March beef exports to Japan increased 41 percent in volume (28,135 mt) and 39 percent in value ($167.7 million). This capped a very strong first quarter in which exports jumped 41 percent (to 74,411 mt) and 42 percent (to $427.3 million), respectively. This included a 55 percent increase in chilled beef volume to 33,366 mt, as U.S. beef captured its highest-ever market share in Japan’s high-value chilled sector.
Coming off a record performance in 2016, beef exports to South Korea posted a very strong first quarter, with volume up 23 percent to 42,551 mt and value increasing 30 percent to $267.5 million. With U.S. beef continuing to gain momentum in Korea’s retail and restaurant sectors, first-quarter chilled beef exports were up 78 percent to 8,508 mt.
Other first-quarter highlights (compared to year-ago levels) for U.S. beef included:
- Exports to Mexico posted a solid increase in volume (57,057 mt, up 17 percent), while value increased 3 percent to $226.8 million. An important destination for shoulder clods, rounds and other beef end cuts, muscle cut exports to Mexico expanded at an even faster pace, climbing 23 percent in volume (30,015 mt) and 11 percent in value ($175.1 million).
- Despite a recent slump in the value of the Canadian dollar, beef exports to Canada have rebounded in 2017, with solid increases in both volume (29,909 mt, up 14 percent) and value ($190.5 million, up 19 percent).
- In Taiwan, where U.S. beef captures more than two-thirds percent of the chilled beef market, exports increased 28 percent in volume to 9,746 mt and 29 percent in value to $85.7 million. This included a 10 percent increase in chilled beef volume to 3,650 mt.
- Beef exports to South America were down 2 percent in volume (4,919 mt) but increased 16 percent in value ($23 million), bolstered by a strong performance in Colombia and a recent rebound in Peru. This week USDA also confirmed the arrival of the first U.S. beef shipments to Brazil since a BSE-related suspension was imposed more than 13 years ago. The first significant export volumes for Brazil will likely appear in the May USDA data, which will be available in early July.
- March exports to South Africa (1,107 mt) were the highest since the market opened last year, making it the month’s 10th largest volume destination for U.S. beef. For the first quarter, South Africa ranked 11th at 1,971 mt. Export value was $1.5 million, with most of the volume being beef livers.
Complete January-March export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.
- Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
- One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.