September exports of U.S. pork kept up the record pace set in the first eight months of the year making a record for 2011 likely. September results show pork exports up 23.6 percent in volume and 40.5 percent in value from last year, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

For the month, the U.S. exported 183,495 metric tons of pork valued at $537.6 million, which trails only March of 2011 as the second-highest monthly export value on record. Pork exports remain on a record-setting pace and are on track to eclipse $5 billion in value for the year for the first time ever.

U.S. pork exports for September equated to 26 percent of total U.S. pork production. Those exports were valued at $56 per head – solid increases from September 2010 totals of 22 percent of production and $40.87 per head.

For the year, the U.S. has exported more than 1.6 million metric tons of pork valued at nearly $4.4 billion, increases of 16 percent and 25 percent, respectively, over the first nine months of 2010.

Pork exports were led by China/Hong Kong, which bought 47,180 metric tons, up 64 percent from last year. The 39,020 metric tons purchased by China was a new monthly record, up 92 percent from last year. The value of the exports to China/Hong Kong was $101.7 million.

Japan remains the leader in value of U.S. pork exports. September’s totals were 38,689 metric tons valued at $166.2 million, increases of 23 percent in volume and 32 percent in value over last year.

Mexico continues to be the volume leader in pork, importing 41,666 metric tons valued at $87 million, an 18 percent increase.

Pork exports to South Korea grew 82.3 percent in volume and 153.6 percent in value versus year-ago levels, although the pace has slowed somewhat from earlier in the year.

Japan and South Korea are two of the markets that USMEF has aggressively targeted in a campaign to raise the visibility of the U.S. pork butt, a cut identified by U.S. exporters as one that has been undervalued.

“We are seeing a very positive response in Japan and Korea, as well as the Caribbean, China, Singapore and some other markets where we’ve worked with the food service and retail sectors to help educate them on the taste and value of the pork butt,” said Phillip Seng, USMEF chief executive officer. “Since the pork butt is one of the top two or three cuts we export to these markets, raising the value of those exports is important for returning higher values to producers.”

Canada was another positive market for U.S. pork in September, reaching record-large volumes (20,034 metric tons) valued at $75.6 million, increases of 31 percent in volume and 42.3 percent in value.

Source: USMEF