The world loves U.S. pork (and beef and lamb); exports hit record high

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DENVER — According to year-end statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation , exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb set new records across the board in 2011, reaching all-time highs in both volume and value and exceeding $11.5 billion in total value.

$6 billion of pork

Pork exports totaled 2.255 million metric tons valued at $6.11 billion, breaking the previous volume record of 2.052 million metric tons and the value record of $4.88 billion, which were both established in 2008.

Year-over-year, pork exports were up 18 percent in volume and 28 percent in value.

Beef exports finished the year at 1.287 million metric tons valued at $5.42 billion. This broke the 2003 volume record of 1.274 million metric tons and passed the 2010 value record of $4.08 billion.

Export volume was 21 percent larger than in 2010, with value up 33 percent.

Lamb exports totaled 18,343 metric tons valued at $30.08 million. This topped the previous record performance of 2006, when exports totaled 13,934 metric tons valued at $27.8 million.

Compared to 2010, lamb export volume was up 72 percent and value increased 46 percent.

“It is extremely gratifying to see all red meat exports reaching new heights, even with the various trade obstacles we still face across the world,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “U.S. producers have provided superior products to market and made solid investments in the international markets — not only from pork, beef and lamb checkoff programs, but also from the corn and soybean checkoffs.”

Huge pork market

For the year, pork exports equated to 27.5 percent of total production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat. In terms of muscle cuts only, exports totaled 23 percent of total production.

This was up substantially from 23.7 percent and 19 percent, respectively, in 2010.

Export value per head slaughtered was $55.55, an increase of 27 percent (nearly $12) from a year ago.

Japan and Mexico

In addition to setting a global value record, Seng noted that the U.S. industry achieved new heights in its top two markets, Japan and Mexico.

“Coming off a record year in Japan, we grew export value by another 20 percent and nearly eclipsed the $2 billion mark,” he said. “We have found new ways to further penetrate the restaurant and retail sectors and capitalize on rapidly growing sectors such as convenience stores.”

Pork exports to Japan set new records for both volume (493,313 metric tons) and value ($1.96 billion), respective increases of 13 percent and 19 percent over 2010.

While slightly lower in volume (537,535 metric tons) than last year, Mexico became the first market other than Japan to import more than $1 billion in U.S. pork in a single year.

Exports to Mexico jumped 6 percent in value over 2010, reaching $1.04 billion.

Pork exports also had a strong year in the Hong Kong/China region, up 64 percent in volume to 483,323 metric tons and nearly doubling in value to $910 million (and surpassed 2008 records).

Beef exports

Beef export value per fed steer and heifer slaughtered was a record $206.37 in 2011, which was more than one-third higher than a year ago ($153.09).

Beef exports equated to 14 percent of total production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat. For muscle cuts only, exports totaled 11 percent of total production.

In 2010, these ratios were 11.7 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Canada was the leading value market for U.S. beef in 2011, reaching $1.03 billion — a 41 percent increase over 2010. Volume to Canada was up 25 percent to 191,047 metric tons.

Mexico was the volume pacesetter at 256,938 metric tons (up 4 percent from 2010), with export value totaling $985.3 million (up 20 percent).

Exports to Japan were up 27 percent in volume (158,646 metric tons) and 37 percent in value ($874.4 million), while exports to Korea grew by 37 percent in volume (154,019 metric tons) and about one-third in value ($686 million), as the U.S. took significant market share from Australia.

Seng said the newly ratified Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement offers growth opportunities for both U.S. pork and beef, but U.S. exporters are especially anxious to gain relief from Korea’s 40 percent tariff on beef, which will be phased out over the next 15 years.

U.S. beef is still not eligible for export to China, but new records were set in Hong Kong of 50,705 metric tons (up 28 percent) valued at $237 million (up 50 percent).

U.S. beef will also be gaining significant tariff relief in Panama and Colombia this year.

Lamb exports start slow

Through the first quarter of 2011, lamb exports were down about 10 percent in value from the previous year. Since that time, however, strong results in Mexico, Canada and the southeastern Caribbean pushed global export totals to a record performance.

In December, lamb exports exceeded year-ago totals by 14 percent in volume (1,385 metric tons) and 21 percent in value ($2.33 million), led by a strong performance in Mexico.

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