US Pork Exports Maintain Strong Pace in February
February results for US pork and beef exports were well above year-ago levels, with pork exports posting the strongest February volume on record, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.
Pork exports reached 197,025 metric tons (mt) in February, up 15 per cent year-over-year, with value up 17 per cent to $486.7 million. For the first two months of 2017, exports totaled 399,692 mt, up 18 per cent, with value increasing 22 per cent to $995.3 million.
February exports accounted for 27.6 per cent of total pork production and 22.9 per cent for muscle cuts only, up from 23.8 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, last year. January-February ratios were also significantly higher at 26.8 per cent and 22.2 per cent, compared to 23 per cent and 19.3 per cent in the first two months of 2016. Export value per hog slaughtered averaged $51.94 in February, up 18 per cent year-over-year, while the January-February average was up 20 per cent to $51.05.
“With trade deficits being a hot topic of conversation, especially with countries such as Mexico, China and Japan, it’s important to highlight the sectors in which US products are competitive throughout the world and exports are thriving,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “The red meat sector is certainly in that category, as exports have helped fuel growth in the US industry and, in turn, larger US production has opened further export opportunities and generated positive returns for the entire supply chain.”
Pork exports strong to Western Hemisphere and North Asian markets
Mexico was once again the pacesetter for February pork exports, with volume up 22 per cent to 64,990 mt and value increasing 28 per cent to $116 million. This pushed the two-month totals for Mexico to 137,396 mt (up 27 per cent) valued at $244.7 million (up 39 per cent). Mexico’s strong demand is reflected not only in increased buying from the US, but also in relatively high domestic hog prices, as per capita consumption of pork continues to grow. Strong demand from Mexico helped move prices for US heavy bone-in hams higher in 2017 – up an average of 4 per cent year-over-year.
For Japan, the leading value market for US pork, February exports increased 14 per cent to 32,178 mt, valued at $130.4 million (up 18 per cent). For January-February, exports to Japan were up 10 per cent in volume (63,755 mt) and 14 per cent in value ($256.1 million). Chilled pork exports to Japan increased 7 per cent through February to 34,682 metric tons.
Other highlights for US pork included:
China/Hong Kong continued to take large volumes of US pork variety meats in February, offsetting the slowdown in pork muscle cuts, putting the combined February total at 42,881 mt (up 5 per cent year-over-year), valued at $83.2 million (up 12 per cent). Two-month totals were up 10 per cent in volume (80,893 mt) and 15 per cent in value ($159.3 million). China’s hog prices dropped below year-ago levels in February and have continued to drift lower, but China/Hong Kong’s total January-February imports were still up 35 per cent from last year’s record pace at 532,600 mt.
Pork exports to South Korea, which were slow in the first half of 2016 before gaining momentum later in the year, totaled 14,649 mt (up 26 per cent) in February, valued at $38.2 million (up 29 per cent). Through February, volume increased 29 per cent to 30,722 mt while value improved 39 per cent to $83.3 million. Korea’s hog prices have increased an average of 8 per cent this year even as production has been growing, which is indicative of strong demand.
Led by a year-over-year doubling of exports to Colombia and Chile and solid growth in Honduras, exports to Central and South America were up 45 per cent in volume (27,022 mt) through February while value increased 42 per cent to $61.8 million.
January-February exports to the Dominican Republic were also well above last year’s pace at 5,279 mt (up 28 per cent) valued at $11.8 million (up 34 per cent).