Momentum continues for pork, beef exports

DENVER — U.S. pork and beef exports continued their strong performance in July, as pork exports remain on an all-time record pace for the year and beef exports are achieving levels of success not seen since 2003.

The torrid pace of 2008 pork exports has been largely attributed to skyrocketing volumes of pork destined for China/Hong Kong.

But even a significant July slowdown in this region could not break the global momentum for U.S. pork, as it was offset by strong growth in other major export markets.

Mexico

A new monthly record was set for pork and pork variety meat exports to Mexico in July, totaling 38,973 metric tons (85.9 million pounds) valued at more than $75 million.

Exports to Mexico in the first seven months of 2008 have totaled 202,280 metric tons (445.9 million pounds) valued at $345.7 million — an increase of 31 percent in volume and 39 percent in value over last year.

Russia

July pork exports to Russia were also record-large at 19,903 metric tons (43.8 million pounds) valued at $42.3 million, putting Russia’s total for January-July 2008 at 113,434 metric tons (250.1 million pounds) valued at $240 million.

This represents an increase of 153 percent in volume and 158 percent in value over the same period last year.

Japan

January-July pork exports to Japan — the largest destination for U.S. pork in terms of value — totaled 259,144 metric tons (571.3 million pounds) valued at $849.7 million.

This is an increase of 24 percent in volume and 27 percent in value over last year.

Canada

Canada has shown similar results, as pork exports to Canada in the first seven months of 2008 jumped 24 percent in volume and 21 percent in value over last year (to 96,106 metric tons or 211.8 million pounds valued at $313.5 million).

South Korea

Exports to South Korea totaled 82,106 metric tons (181 million pounds) valued at $172.2 million during the same period, an increase of 41 percent in volume and 23 percent in value over last year.

China/Hong Kong

Pork and pork variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong set a series of monthly records during the first half of 2008, with the volume rising 324 percent over the same period in 2007.

But with China taking significant measures to increase its domestic pork production, slower sales of U.S. pork have been anticipated in the second half of this year.

The volume and value of July pork exports to China/Hong Kong declined about 41 percent compared to June, but still remained well ahead (130 percent by volume, 188 percent by value) of the results achieved in July 2007.

Benchmark

The U.S. beef industry achieved an important benchmark in July, as the value of beef exports for the first seven months of 2008 surpassed imports for the first time since the discovery of BSE closed most global markets to U.S. beef in December 2003.

Global beef and beef variety meat exports totaled 98,972 metric tons (218.2 million pounds) in July, valued at $363 million — increasing more than 10 percent over the June 2008 total, and reaching 97 percent of the July 2003 export value.

These results pushed the total value of exports for January-July 2008 to $1.94 billion — an increase of 37 percent over last year and more than $165 million above the value of beef imports into the U.S. during the same period.

By comparison, U.S. beef exports during the first seven months of 2007 fell nearly $700 million short of imports — which have declined by 16 percent from the same period a year ago.

Top destination

Mexico remains the top destination for U.S. beef, with record-high exports totaling 40,930 metric tons (90.2 million pounds) in July valued at almost $147 million.

From January through July, exports to Mexico have increased by 19 percent in volume and 23 percent in value over last year.

Beef exports to other top markets during this seven-month period also are running far ahead of last year’s pace, including Canada (up 37 percent by volume and 42 percent by value), Japan (up about 70 percent in both volume and value), Taiwan (up 37 percent in volume and 40 percent in value) and Vietnam (up 590 percent in volume and 769 percent in value).

Russia also is emerging as one of the driving forces behind the growth of beef and beef variety meat exports, with a July total of 7,649 metric tons (16.9 million pounds) valued at $17.6 million.

This pushes the January-July export totals for Russia to 18,843 metric tons (41.5 million pounds) valued at $42.6 million.

Beef exports to South Korea are beginning to gain traction, totaling 1,6Good news17 metric tons (3.5 million pounds) in July, valued at $6.35 million.

This is good news for cattle producers, as the Korean market reopening is having a significant impact on short rib prices.

At about $2.70 per pound, short ribs are priced about 35 percent higher than a year ago.

The chuck cut-out — which also is largely driven by export demand – is priced more than 25 percent higher than at this time last year.

Citing growing strength in Asian markets, the United States Department of Agriculture boosted its forecast for beef exports last week — raising its outlook for the remainder of 2008 as well as for 2009.

Factoring in the increase, USDA now forecasts 2008 beef exports to finish 28 percent higher than last year, and to increase by an additional 12 percent in 2009.

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