The positive trend for U.S. pork exports continued through November with strong results in the top three markets – Mexico, Japan and China/Hong Kong – and higher returns on a per-head basis.

Total U.S. pork exports (muscle cuts plus variety meat) for the month of November increased 4.5% in volume over year-ago levels to 177,203 metric tons (390.7 million pounds), but the value of those exports jumped 15.5% to $443.4 million.

For the year as a whole, the volume of pork exports is up 2% to 1.7 million metric tons (3.8 billion pounds), but the value of those exports is up 10% to $4.3 billion.

Exports accounted for 23.8% of November production with a per-head export value of $44.80. One year ago, exports accounted for 24% of production and $40.92/head.

Mexico continues to be the volume leader for U.S. pork exports and November was a banner month. The volume of exports jumped 28.3% to 53,699 metric tons (118.4 million pounds) compared to November 2009, but the value of those exports jumped 44.3% to $95.3 million.

The export performance in Mexico is particularly gratifying in light of the 5% import tariff on U.S. pork hams and shoulders imposed last August in a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)-related trucking dispute between the United States and Mexico.

Mexico recently was the scene of a large-scale seminar that brought together leading Mexican scientists, nutritionists, health professionals and reporters, as well as government officials, for a program sponsored by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in conjunction with nine Mexican meat industry and governmental bodies to provide education on the role of red meat in a healthy diet. This is a critical issue in Mexico, which was recently identified by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as having the highest percentage of overweight or obese adults in the world (69.5%).

Japan, which is far and away the value leader among importers of U.S. pork, purchased 38,950 metric tons of product (85.9 million pounds) in November, a 17.1% hike over year-ago levels. The value of those imports jumped 22.5% to $148.7 million. For the first 11 months of 2010, U.S. pork exports to Japan are up 2% in volume to 397,528 metric tons (876.4 million pounds) valued at $1.5 billion, a 6% increase in value.

The No. 3 market for U.S. pork exports, the China/Hong Kong region, continues to perform well, and November was an improvement over both year-ago levels and the 2010 trend. For the month, China/Hong Kong imported 28,067 metric tons (61.9 million pounds) valued at $45.4 million, a 10.4% increase in volume and a 16.4% bump in value. Statistics for the first 11 months of 2010 show an 11% hike in export volume to 254,554 metric tons (561.2 million pounds) valued at $405.9 million – a 7% increase.

Other leading markets for U.S. pork products include:

• Canada – While exports slumped slightly in November – down 7% in volume to 15,644 metric tons (34.5 million pounds) and 3% in value to $50.8 million – they remain positive for the first 11 months of 2010, with a 7% increase in volume to 164,767 metric tons (363.2 million pounds) and an 18% jump in value to $562.6 million.

• Russia – Year-over-year, exports to Russia are down because access was limited earlier in 2010 due to continued plant delistings, but there are signs of recovery. Through November, exports are down 35% in volume to 86,194 metric tons (190 million pounds) and 24% in value to $210.5 million. However, the value of exports edged up 5.5% in November to $31.8 million even though the volume of product slipped 23.2% to 11,214 metric tons (24.7 million pounds).

• South Korea – Exceptionally low prices for domestic pork in South Korea have held pork imports from all nations down. For the year, the volume of U.S. pork exports to Korea is down 21% to 76,487 metric tons (168.6 million pounds), while value is down 18% to $164.4 million. For November, exports of 7,214 metric tons (15.9 million) slipped 29.8% while the value dipped a more modest 20.2% to $16.2 million.

Muscle cut exports continue to outperform variety meat, with muscle cuts experiencing a 13% jump in value to $3.7 billion on a modest 1% increase in volume (1.3 million metric tons or nearly 2.9 billion pounds). Variety meat exports for the year are up 4% in volume to 430,827 metric tons (949.8 million pounds), but down 4% in value to $633.2 million.

Japan is the leading market for U.S. pork muscle cut exports in terms of both volume and value for the year, but increased exports to Mexico helped drive the industry’s gains in 2010. Muscle cut exports to Mexico jumped 16% in volume and 47% in value to 343,998 metric tons (758.4 million pounds) valued at $695.4 million.

The China/Hong Kong region is the No. 1 market for U.S. pork variety meat exports. For the first 11 months of 2010, it has imported 155,786 metric tons (343.4 million pounds) valued at $234.5 million – an increase of 29% in volume and 25% in value over year-ago levels.

Jim Herlihy
Vice President of Communications
U.S. Meat Export Federation
jherlihy@usmef.org
www.usmef.org