DENVER, Colo. — While economic caution flags are flying as we enter the final quarter of 2008, both U.S. beef and pork export levels continued to exceed expectations through the first nine months of the year.
U.S. pork exports built on the record set in August, skyrocketing 61 percent in September over totals from a year ago.
U.S. pork and variety meat exports for the month totaled 163,055 metric tons (just shy of 360 million pounds) valued at $425.5 million.
Year-to-date, pork exports are up 70 percent in volume versus 2007 to 1.5 million metric tons (3.4 billion pounds) valued at $3.6 billion — a 64 percent increase.
Beef plus variety meat exports also maintained their strength through September with monthly exports up 47 percent to 98,640 metric tons (217.5 million pounds) valued at $396 million.
For the first nine months of 2008, beef export volume increased 33 percent to 750,916 metric tons (1.65 billion pounds) valued at nearly $2.8 billion, a 45 percent jump.
The January through September beef export totals for 2008 stand at 95 percent of 2003 levels for value and 77 percent of 2003 volume totals.
However, September 2008 exports exceeded those of September 2003 by 18 percent in value.
Currency fluctuations and credit issues are affecting the flow of world meat trade, and exports will be impacted in the final quarter of the year.
However, as markets stabilize, demand for U.S. pork and beef should remain strong.
Japan, Mexico, Russia and Hong Kong/China were the leading markets for pork exports in September, although Canada set a new monthly record and South Korea continues to grow as a market for U.S. pork.
Mexico tops beef markets
Exports to Mexico, the largest U.S. beef market, were up 23 percent in September to 33,409 metric tons (73.6 million pounds) valued at $131.5 million, putting the 2008 volume total up 19 percent over 2007 to 313,144 metric tons (690.4 million pounds) valued at $1.1 billion, a 27 percent increase.
Beef and variety meat exports to Mexico peaked in July at 40,930 metric tons (90.2 million pounds — the current record for monthly exports to Mexico).
Feeder cattle imports from Mexico are down 43 percent (totaling 496,694 head through Nov. 11) and there is much concern regarding the impact of COOL on Mexican feeder cattle values.
Exports to Canada peaked in May (the latest record at 18,056 metric ton or 39.8 million pounds) but remained eight percent above year-ago levels in September with exports totaling 12,731 metric tons (28.1 million pounds).
January through September exports are up 31 percent to 122,448 metric tons (269.9 million pounds) valued at $574.4 million, up 35 percent.
Not including variety meat, South Korea was the second-largest destination for U.S. beef exports during September, with exports totaling 16,642 metric tons (36.7 million pounds) valued at $89 million.
This volume exceeded exports in September 2003 which totaled 13,431 metric tons (29.6 million pounds).
Since beef and beef variety meat exports resumed in mid-July, they have totaled 31,385 metric tons (69.2 million pounds) valued at $162 million.
Weekly beef export sales data through Nov. 6 indicates accumulated exports of 45,000 metric tons (99.2 million pounds), with outstanding sales of 16,000 metric tons (35.3 million pounds).
Exports to Taiwan declined dramatically in September to 1,816 metric tons (4 million pounds), down from the peak of 2,856 metric tons (6.3 million pounds) in August, but remained eight percent above last year’s volume.
Total 2008 exports to Taiwan are up 35 percent to 21,204 metric tons (46.7 million pounds) valued at $99 million and are on track to set another record this year.