August was a solid month for both U.S. pork and beef exports as both easily increased their gains over the cumulative totals from the first eight months of 2009.
August pork exports were up 9 percent in volume and 16 percent in value over last year, totaling 146,459 metric tons valued at $369 million. For January through August, exports totaled 1.244 million metric tons valued at $3.11 billion. The volume is 3 percent higher than 2009, while the value is up 9 percent over last year and trails the record pace of 2008 by just 3 percent.
Mexico and Canada led pork export value growth, but exports to Japan (the largest value market for U.S. pork) were also up 3 percent in value to $1.09 billion.
On a per-head basis, pork export value was $40.87 in August, up from $34.50 last year. Exports as a percent of total production equated to 22.4 percent in August and nearly 24 percent for the year.
While U.S. pork exports achieved excellent growth in Mexico and Canada, smaller markets in the Western Hemisphere also performed extremely well. Exports to Central and South America climbed 34 percent in volume and 36 percent in value led by strong results in Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia.
Pork exports to the Caribbean were up 9 percent in volume and 21 percent in value, with growth led by the Dominican Republican and Trinidad and Tobago.
"USMEF has begun some aggressive marketing initiatives in Central America this year and we are seeing strong gains for U.S. pork in this region," said Philip Seng USMEF president and chief executive officer. "Despite some ongoing market access issues in some of the islands - such as Jamaica and St. Lucia - U.S. pork is also achieving great success in the Caribbean.
While Japan remains the largest export value market by a large margin, export volume to Japan also achieved a small increase over last year to 291,821 metric tons. The value total of $1.09 billion is actually well ahead of the pace set in 2008, when exports to Japan set an all-time value record. Increasing domestic inventories in Japan, however, make a new record unlikely in 2010.
"We are very pleased with the results achieved in Japan," Seng said. "U.S. pork has expanded its presence through new products such as back ribs, and gained excellent traction in high-growth sectors such as convenience stores. But Japan is an exceptionally competitive market both in terms of domestic pork and products from other foreign suppliers. So we must be even more aggressive if we are going to maintain our strong market share because our competitors are really stepping up their efforts in the world's largest and most lucrative imported pork market."
Other market highlights include:
• Led by exceptional growth in the Philippines, exports to the ASEAN region were up 36 percent in volume and 48 percent in value. The Philippines now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the ASEAN market for U.S. pork, though Singapore has also achieved solid growth this year.
• Exports to Australia are up 14 percent in volume and 28 percent in value. U.S. pork set a record in Australia last year and has achieved steady growth there since entering the market in 2004. The United States is now the largest volume supplier of pork to Australia, holding 36 percent of the imported pork market.
• Exports to both China and Russia were large in August, with China just missing an all-time monthly volume record. Despite exports to Russia still being constrained by a number of delisted plants, these results show a strong rebound in demand for U.S. pork (particularly variety meat) in two key markets that were down sharply in 2009 and in the early months of 2010.
• On a per-head basis, beef exports equated to $159.60 per steer and heifer slaughtered in August - up from about $120.00 in August 2009. Export value for January-August equated to $144.32 per head compared to $115.25 a year ago. Exports made up 11.4 percent of production, up from 9.7 percent last year.
Beef exports for the month increased 24 percent in volume and 43 percent in value compared to August 2009, totaling 92,579 metric tons valued at $373.7 million. The cumulative January-August totals were up 16 percent in volume and 27 percent in value to $2.57 billion.
All major beef export markets showed strong growth through the first eight months of the year except for Vietnam and Mexico, which is down 21 percent in volume and 18 percent in value. August results for Mexico were somewhat encouraging, however, as volume (20,959 metric tons) was down slightly from last year but value was 6 percent higher.
Complete January-August statistics for pork and beef are available online.