Despite the global economic downturn, red meat export numbers for October continue to show progress over the previous year. Pork exports held up extremely well, posting the third-largest monthly volume on record that equates to a 46 percent volume increase over exports from October of 2007 and a 55.5 percent increase in value.

Pork and pork variety meat exports in October totaled 192,940 metric tons valued at $487 million – a new record for monthly export value. Export volume increased 18 percent over the previous month and trails only May and June of 2008 for most pork exported in a single month. For January through October, exports were up 67 percent to 1.7 million metric tons, with value surpassing $4.1 billion.

The story for U.S. beef also remains strong. Although smaller than the summer peak, beef plus beef variety meat exports were relatively strong in October, exceeding October 2007 volume levels by 16 percent. U.S. beef and variety meat exports for the month reached 89,205 metric tons valued at $348.3 million, exceeding year-ago export value totals by 31.4 percent. 

“The effects of the global economic turmoil are being felt in many markets,” said Erin Daley, economist for the U.S. Meat Export Federation. “However, we are continuing to see the value and quality of U.S. exports reflected in the export numbers,” she said. 

Following are October pork export highlights:

  • Japan – U.S. pork continues its reign as the king of imported pork in Japan. Exports to Japan set another monthly record   at 41,961 metric tons valued at $158.5 million. For the year, U.S. pork exports are up 27 percent in volume to 377,632 metric tons valued at $1.29 billion, an increase of 35 percent. Japan accounts for 31 percent of the total value of U.S. pork exports.
  • Mexico – Exports to Mexico also set a new record for the month at 39,826 metric tons surpassing the July record and rebounding 35 percent from lower September volumes. Mexico was the second-largest destination for U.S. pork for the month, but trails China/Hong Kong for year-to-date totals. 
  • Russia – Russia set another record for U.S. pork and variety meat imports in October at 31,744 metric tons.  Muscle cuts accounted for 17,444 metric tons.

Total pork exports to Russia for the year have surpassed 200,000 metric tons valued at $435.5 million, a 173 percent increase in volume and 184 percent increase in value. 

According to Russian import data, Russia surpassed the United States as the largest importer of beef in the world with 677,226 metric tons of imports. During the first nine months of 2008, Russia reported that it imported about 2.3 million metric tons of poultry, pork and beef during, trailing only China/Hong Kong as the largest meat importing region in the world. “Meat trade flow in 2009 will largely depend on production, prices and consumer demand in China and Russia,” Daley said.

  • China/Hong Kong – pork exports to this region remain above 2007 volumes, buoyed by continued strength in variety meat exports, with the majority of product going to Hong Kong. October exports totaled 27,361 metric tons, up 21 percent from September and 15 percent from a year ago. Total 2008 exports equaled 357,962 metric tons valued at $618.4 million, a 178 percent increase in volume and 209 percent increase in value.  

Daley noted that China’s domestic production growth, corresponding pork prices and consumer demand, given the economic slowdown, will determine pork exports to the region during 2009. “Thus far it appears that Chinese production continues to increase, with greater hog productivity given investment in commercial farms,” she said, “yet production profitability has fallen with the decline in hog prices and many producers are likely operating just around breakeven. Therefore, the incentive for further production growth in 2009 could be hampered by relatively lower profitability. Consumer demand also is expected to be sluggish through the winter and reported stocks of frozen imported pork are still weighing on the market.”

  • Canada – October’s exports dipped below 2007 levels, but export totals of 13,755 metric tons were relatively steady compared to previous months in 2008.   For the year (January through October), exports totals of 139,672 metric tons, are up 18 percent from last year. Canada’s official challenge of COOL combined with the weak Canadian dollar, lower hog numbers and smaller live hog exports to the United States will influence trade in 2009, Daley said.
  • South Korea – exports in October were 10,283 metric tons, a 24 percent increase over October of 2007 and 10 percent above the prior month. Exports for the first 10 months of 2008 were up 48 percent to 112,281 metric tons valued at $240.4 million, a 33 percent increase over last year.
  • ASEAN – exports to this region were fairly strong at 3,500 metric tons in October, led by 2,262 metric tons to the Philippines. While these volumes are well below the summer peak, they remain 106.5 percent above October 2007 for the region with exports to the Philippines up 137 percent. For the 10-month period, exports to the region were up 350 percent to 50,479 metric tons, equaling a 364 percent hike in value to $99.8 million.  Export volume in the region thus far in 2008 has grown 232 percent in the Philippines, 967 percent in Vietnam and 364 percent in Singapore.
  • European Union – pork muscle cut exports to the EU-27 totaled 5,302 metric tons in October, more than double last year’s volume, putting the 2008 10-month total at 44,568 metric tons valued at $121.6 million.

Source: USMEF