DENVER — Red meat exports continued their strong pace through November, with pork up 20 percent and beef up 9 percent (including variety meat) compared to November 2007.
For the first 11 months of 2008, pork and pork variety meat exports were 61 percent larger than 2007, nearing the 2 million metric ton mark; 2008 pork exports through 11 months were valued at $4.5 billion, an increase of 59 percent.
The story for U.S. beef exports also remains positive.
January through November beef exports were up 37 percent to 1.28 billion pounds with variety meat exports up 18 percent to 730.8 million pounds.
Total beef exports of 2.01 billion pounds were up 29 percent and valued at $3.37 billion, an increase of 40 percent; 2008 beef exports are on pace to reach 94 percent of the 2003 export value.
“The bottom line is that, regardless of the global economic situation, people have to eat.”
U.S. Meat Export Federation economist
“Global protein supplies remain tight, with the exception of a few situations in key countries where stocks of imported red meat are weighing on the market, specifically in Korea and China,” said Erin Daley, U.S. Meat Export Federation economist.
“As currencies and prices stabilize, inventories will decline and demand for U.S. red meat will likely continue at a relatively strong level. Although pork exports are not expected to maintain the stunning pace of 2008, they are forecast to exceed 2007 volumes,” Daley said.
“The bottom line is that, regardless of the global economic situation, people have to eat,” said Daley.
“U.S. beef and pork prices are lower than they were during the summer, which helps offset the increased strength of the U.S. of the dollar,” Daley reported.
Despite the slowing of global trade in all products, pork exports from the major suppliers, the European Union, the U.S. and Canada, remained fairly steady from September through November.
Pork exports from Brazil, however, declined by 50 percent in November, and its beef exports fell 35 percent compared to November 2007. Reduced exports to Russia and Hong Kong account for most of the decline.
Australia’s beef exports remained strong from September through November, largely due to an increase in exports to the United States, with U.S. import demand stimulated by the strengthening U.S. dollar.
For the first 11 months of the year, exports of pork and pork variety meat accounted for nearly 25 percent of production, with export value equating to $43 per head slaughtered compared to less than $30 per head during the same period in 2007, Daley said.
“Pork remains a very affordable protein, and our exports continue to defy projections,” said Daley.
Mexico was the top pork export market in November, reaching another new record at 91.3 million pounds, up 50 percent from November 2007.
Japan was the second-largest market in November with exports at 88.9 million pounds, up 22 percent.
Although the strong yen has unique implications for pork exports, due to the gate price system, exports are expected to remain strong in 2009 especially as the U.S. is the dominant supplier of chilled pork.
Although it is difficult to predict the pace of exports to the region in 2009, U.S. pork will benefit from the wide exposure to the product during the massive shipments in 2008.
Pork exports to Canada set a new monthly record in November at 38.5 million pounds, up 8 percent from November 2007.
“Exports were surprisingly strong considering the weakening of the Canadian dollar and the slowing of live hog exports to the U.S. Imports of Canadian slaughter hogs were down 38 percent during 2008,” said Daley.
“Hopefully the revisions to COOL in the recently published rule will result in more favorable trade with Canada and Mexico.”
Nearly 11 percent of U.S. beef and beef variety meat production was exported in January through November 2008.
Export value equated to $134.83 per head of steer and heifer slaughter. For comparison, in 2003 approximately 13 percent of production was exported, with exports equating to $136.46 per head.
“The top market for U.S. beef, Mexico, has been hit by the weak peso and the recession,” said Daley. “U.S. round prices remained above year-ago levels during November and this, combined with the weak peso, resulted in slower beef exports to Mexico.”
Mexico accounted for 40 percent of U.S. beef and variety meat export volume from January through November 2008.
U.S. imports of Mexican feeder cattle declined by 34.6 percent in 2008, totaling just 702,873 head. Exports to Canada accounted for 16 percent of total U.S. export volume and 20 percent of U.S. export value through November.
Similar to hogs, U.S. imports of Canadian slaughter cattle were down 24 percent in 2008.
Exports to the Middle East were up 25 percent in November at 21 million pounds with January through November exports down 3 percent in volume but up 36 percent in value, valued at $138.4 million.
Liver exports to Egypt still account for the bulk of export volume, but beef muscle cut exports to the region were up 68 percent.
Although retail sales help build confidence in U.S. beef, foodservice will be the major outlet for the frozen beef stocks.
Many factors are limiting U.S. beef sales at the restaurant level including the new country of origin labeling requirement, the economic slowdown and lingering concerns about consumer acceptance.