In the attached audio report, Philip Seng, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO, reviews the latest (January through November) 2012 pork and beef export results in key markets and addresses some of the challenges ahead in 2013.

Seng notes that with December 2012 results still to be tabulated, U.S. pork exports are ahead of 2011’s record pace in terms of both volume (2.08 million metric tons, up 2 percent over 2011) and value ($5.81 billion, up 5 percent over 2011). “It looks like we will eclipse $6 billion in 2012,” according to Seng.”In our major markets, we’re actually doing quite well.”

Pork exports to Japan slowed in the middle of last year due to heightened enforcement of the entry prices required under Japan’s gate price system, but have since rebounded nicely and could exceed $2 billion for the first time in a single year. Seng says the performance of U.S. pork exports has also been very strong in Mexico, Central America and South America.  

On the beef side, 2012 export value is on pace to reach a record $5.5 billion despite volume being down more than 10 percent compared to 2011. This is due in part to lower cattle supplies and higher prices slowing shipments to some markets, but Seng says the industry also still faces significant BSE-related barriers. He is hopeful that Japan will soon ease the 20-month cattle age limit on U.S. beef imports, and he also reiterates the need for access to China. According to the Global trade Atlas, China’s beef import volume soared by nearly 130 percent in 2012.

A full summary of the January-November 2012 export results is available online.