Pork exports sharply lower in March, first quarter

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U.S. exporters shipped 397 million pounds of pork to foreign destinations in March, more than 18 percent less than a year ago. With each month thus far in 2013 year-over-year lower, the first-quarter pork export figure came in almost 16 percent below the same period last year.

While this presents a somber tableau overall, there were some bright spots; among them were year-over-year higher first-quarter shipments to Canada (+6.2 percent); to Central and South America (+14.6 percent) (especially to Costa Rica, Panama, and Columbia); the Philippines (+31.3 percent); and Ukraine, which imported almost six times more U.S. pork in the first quarter than a year ago because of recent restrictions imposed on imports of Brazilian pork products.

In the first quarter, slower shipments to Asia and to Mexico pushed U.S. exports below the same period last year. In Asia, U.S pork faced strong headwinds in Japan (exports down almost 9 percent). Slower Japanese demand likely derives largely from the 16.4-percent average first-quarter depreciation of the yen, along with slightly higher domestic pork production.

In China, year-over-year lower domestic hog prices likely account for lower import demand. In South Korea pork production has rebounded strongly after foot and mouth disease reduced the national herd in late 2010-early 2011.

In Mexico, while the peso has appreciated almost 3 percent against the U.S. dollar and the Mexican economy continues to expand at rates approaching 4 percent per year, first-quarter shipments of both U.S. pork and beef to Mexico were below a year earlier. Pork exports to Mexico were almost 14 percent lower than in first quarter a year ago, and U.S. beef exports were off by more than 32 percent.

Part of the reason for Mexico’s lower red meat imports could perhaps be explained by its higher first-quarter imports of U.S. chicken products. U.S. exports of broiler products increased by more than13 percent, and other U.S. chicken exports to Mexico more than doubled. On the other hand, first-quarter U.S. turkey exports to Mexico were13 percent lower than a year ago.

For 2013, total U.S. pork exports are expected to be 5.03 billion pounds, almost 7 percent below volumes exported in 2012. The following table provides a summary of first-quarter U.S. pork exports:

First quarter 2013: U.S. pork exports, volumes and trade shares of 10 largest foreign destinations

 

Country

2013

Jan.-Mar.

2012

Jan.-Mar.

Percent  change
(2013/2012)

2013

Share of total exports

2012

Share of total exports

 

 

---Million lbs.---

(%)

(%)

(%)

 

World

1,218

1,444

-15.6

 

 

1

Japan

343

376

-8.8

28.1

26.0

2

Mexico

266

309

-13.9

21.9

21.4

3

Canada

144

136

6.2

11.8

9.4

4

China/Hong Kong

140

241

-41.9

11.5

16.7

5

South Korea

100

147

-32.5

8.2

10.2

6

Australia

53

58

-9.5

4.3

4.0

7

Philippines

26

20

31.3

2.1

1.4

8

Russia

17

45

-61.9       

1.4

3.1

9

Honduras

15

14

5.3

1.3

1.0

10

Colombia

15

9

63.3

1.2

0.6

Source: USDA/ERS



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