According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, pork exports in October were the largest of the year (to date on numbers collected) on a value basis at $539.9 million, and second-largest in volume at 186,637 metric tons. However, these numbers are still 11 and 14 percent lower, respectively, than last October’s all-time single-month highs for both volume and value. Both the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Central and South America region recorded double-digit increases, as they have all year, while other key markets trailed 2012’s historic highs.
“The ebbs and flows of export markets require us to make continual adjustments,” says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “For example, Japan remains the United States’ top value market for pork exports, but relentless competition from other international suppliers is making it tougher for us to maintain our market share."
Seng also noted while the U.S. Congress continues to debate budget cuts that could affect spending on programs like the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program that support U.S. agricultural exports, the European Commission has proposed more than tripling its spending to support EU agricultural and agri-food sector products.
“There is no question that exports create jobs and support a positive balance of trade,” says Seng. “The European Commission sees that link and is looking to put significantly more resources into their export initiative, so we can expect to face even heavier competition in the top value markets going forward.”
Top pork markets
USMEF reports that Mexico, the leading volume market for U.S. pork, dipped 2 percent in volume during October (55,152 metric tons) while the value increased 5.6 percent to $114.6 million. Through the first 10 months of the year, export volume to Mexico (501,979 metric tons) was steady with last year’s record pace and export value ($964.4 million) was 4 percent higher.
October sales to the top value market, Japan, slipped nearly 8 percent in value ($173.5 million) on 15 percent lower volume (38,322 metric tons). For January through October, exports were down 9 percent in volume (356,032 metric tons) and 6 percent in value ($1.58 billion).
U.S. pork export value in October averaged $51.79 per head, down 7 percent from last year. Exports accounted for 20 percent of pork muscle cuts and nearly 24 percent of total pork production, compared to 23 and 27.4 percent last year.