The year-end numbers for U.S. meat exports for 2006 don’t lie – they reveal yet another record-breaking year for U.S. pork exports in volume. That marks the 15th consecutive  year. U.S. beef exports rebounded and totals of U.S. lamb exports increased.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to countries around the world totaled 1.26 million metric tons, a 9 percent increase over the previous year. Value also increased 9 percent in 2006, reaching more than $2.86 billion.

Although a great deal of attention was focused on resumption of U.S. beef trade in Japan, it remained the No. 1 market in value for U.S. pork and pork variety meats with a value of $1.04 billion. Although value dipped 4 percent from 2005, Japan was the only market to exceed $1 billion in U.S. pork sales in 2006.

USMEF activities included cooking events to inform consumers and chefs on the best ways to cook U.S. pork cuts, in addition to seasonal recipes tailored to holiday events and traditions in Japan. “Consumer response to the taste, tenderness and texture of U.S. pork at USMEF activities has been extremely positive,” USMEF Japan Director Greg Hanes says.

Mexico led all markets in volume of U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports at 356,418 mt, a 7 percent increase from 2005 levels. USMEF encourages U.S. pork purchases through retail promotions, cooking classes, retail marketing and education on U.S. pork’s role in overall health.

“We have had success with events that cultivate future customers of U.S. pork while imparting important information about quality meat as part of a healthy diet, particularly for young, growing children,” says Chad Russell, USMEF regional director of Mexico and the Dominican Republic. “Not only are we increasing U.S. pork exports, but we are helping create sustained growth from an increased focus on health and diet.”

Other areas that showed growth in 2006 include South Korea, Russia and the Caribbean. Meat prices in South Korea are at an all-time high, so USMEF showed consumers how the taste and quality of U.S. pork is similar to domestic pork, but at a lower price. U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to this market in 2006 increased 52 percent in volume to 109,198 mt and 50 percent in value to $232.1 million compared to 2005.

“A favorable price has encouraged more consumers to try U.S. chilled pork, but once they try it, they purchase it again because of its good flavor and high quality,” says Jihae Yang, USMEF Korea director.

For a breakdown of export statistics by market, see U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports for 2006 on the USMEF Web site.

U.S. Beef Making A Comeback Internationally

Meanwhile, U.S. beef exports also had a good year as increased access led to export growth. U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports worldwide increased 39 percent in volume to 655,920 mt and 50 percent in value to $2.04 billion in 2006 compared to 2005.

“Export volume outpaced our forecast by 3 percent and this growth occurred without market access to Korea, and limited access to Japan,” says Erin Daley, USMEF manager, research and analysis. “Looking at countries with full market access, (exclude Korea, Japan Russia and Hong Kong/China) and U.S. beef export volumes in 2006 were 16.5 percent higher than 2003, prior to the BSE case.”

For the third consecutive year, Mexico led all markets in volume and value for U.S. beef and beef variety meat in 2006. Volume increased 32 percent to 371,087 mt and value went up 33 percent to $1.17 billion.

The USMEF “We Care” campaign in Japan has contributed to restored consumer and trader confidence in U.S. beef since it returned to the country in early August 2006. In those four months, the United States exported 13,736 mt valued at $66.5 million to Japan. USMEF reports increasing demand from retailers and foodservice outlets, indicating consumers are gradually returning to the taste and quality U.S. beef offers.

The “We Care” campaign provides a consistent message to consumers and traders through different activities like newspaper advertisements, beef bowl restaurant promotions, information seminars and community events to demonstrate the sincerity of the U.S. beef industry in providing a safe and consistent product.

For a breakdown of export statistics by market, see U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports for 2006 on the USMEF Web site.

U.S. Lamb Exports Increase

Exports of U.S. lamb and mutton plus lamb variety meat increased 55 percent in volume in 2006 to 13, 934 mt and 66 percent in value to $27.8 million over 2005.

The United States exported the most lamb to Mexico with a volume of 6,579 mt valued at $10.9 million. Volume increased 71 percent while value went up 80 percent compared to 2005.

Canada and the Caribbean are the second and third largest markets. USMEF encourages chefs in the Caribbean to use U.S. lamb and other red meat in creative ways during its annual chef competition. Chefs concentrate on new uses for underutilized cuts instead of focusing on popular items like racks and legs.

U.S. lamb and lamb variety meat exports to the Caribbean increased 37 percent in volume to 1,229 mt and 84 percent in value to $6 million.

For a breakdown of export statistics by market, see U.S. lamb and mutton plus variety meat exports for 2006 on the USMEF Web site.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation