November was the strongest month of 2013 for pork exports, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports were bolstered by solid growth to Mexico and the Central/South America region, registering the highest totals for the year. Despite that fact, year-to-date U.S. pork exports continue to trail 2012’s record numbers by 6% in volume, or 1.95 million metric tons(mt) valued at $5.5 billion, a 5% decline.

“Market access…product availability…relationships. There are many factors that play a role in the export marketplace,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “We continue to see benefits from expanded market access for beef in Japan and Hong Kong. At the same time, the lack of access for U.S. beef to Mainland China and the closure of the Russian market for both pork and beef – which is approaching a year in duration – are significant barriers.”

Seng noted that other impediments for U.S. pork exports to both China and Japan have had an impact. Drought has had widespread ramifications, leading to smaller cattle numbers in the U.S. and a contrasting surge in Australia’s 2013 production, also leading to record exports of Australian beef. 

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Driven by sustained export growth to Japan and Hong Kong and the continued rebound of the Mexican market, U.S. beef exports surged 11% in volume and 16%  in value compared to November 2012, putting 11-month totals at nearly 1.1 million metric tons (mt), up 3% from a year ago. Export value reached $5.61 billion, an 11% increase over last year’s pace and already ahead of the 2012 year-end total of $5.51 billion.

November pork exports

U.S. pork exports in November totaled 192,657 mt. Exports equated to 26% of total pork production and 22% of muscle cuts versus 26.8 and 23%, respectively, last year.

The export value per head was $57.07 for pork in November, an increase of $1.09 versus last year.

The top-performing export markets for U.S. pork for the month were:

  • Mexico: 58,678 mt (up 16%) valued at $124.3 million (up nearly 26%)
    • Exports are on-pace to set another annual record and Mexico remains the top volume market for U.S. pork, trailing only Japan in value
  • Central/South America: 15,876 mt (up 58 %) valued at $42.2 million (up 77%) and exports already set a new annual record with strong growth to Colombia, Chile and Honduras
  • Hong Kong: 7,326 mt (up 35% ) but not fully offsetting smaller volumes to China (27,978 mt, down 15%)
  • ASEAN: 5,831 mt (up 25%) valued at $12.4 million (up 10 %)
  • Caribbean: 4,281 mt (up 18%) valued at $11.2 million (up 23%)

Japan, the No. 1 export market for U.S. pork, continued to trail 2012 levels, down 2 % in volume and 7 % in value for the month, with 11-month totals at 390,388 mt (down 8%) valued at $1.7 billion (down 6%). Based on Japanese import data, smaller volumes of frozen pork from the U.S. have not been fully offset by growth in chilled pork and ground seasoned pork. 

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