U.S. Pork Exports Steady in September

September pork export volume was steady with both the August and year-ago levels, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports totaled 183,481 metric tons (mt) in September, nearly identical to both the September 2016 and August 2017 volumes. September export value was $503.8 million, up 3 percent year-over-year. Through the first three quarters of the year, pork exports were 8 percent ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.79 million mt, while export value climbed 10 percent to $4.71 billion.

September exports accounted for 23.6 percent of total pork production and 19.8 percent for muscle cuts only – both down slightly from a year ago. For January through September, these ratios improved about one percentage point from a year ago to 26.5 percent of total production and 22.1 percent for muscle cuts. September export value averaged $48.98 per head slaughtered, up 1 percent from a year ago. Through the first three quarters of the year, per-head export value was $52.79, up 7 percent.

Pork exports to Mexico soften in September, but remain on record pace
Pork exports to leading volume market Mexico edged modestly lower in September at 63,771 mt – down 4 percent from a year ago – while export value slipped 7 percent to $122.1 million. But through the first three quarters of the year, exports to Mexico remained well ahead of last year’s record volume pace at 585,998 mt (up 15 percent), while export value was up 18 percent to $1.1 billion.

September pork export results were bolstered by year-over-year increases to South Korea, Canada, Central and South America, the ASEAN region and Taiwan, while export volumes trended lower to leading value market Japan, China/Hong Kong and Australia. Market-specific highlights included:

Pork exports to South Korea climbed 33 percent in volume (9,362 mt) and 27 percent in value ($25.9 million) in September, pushing results through the first three quarters of the year up 27 percent (to 120,633 mt) and 31 percent (to $330.9 million), respectively. Korea’s pork consumption is on pace to set another new record this year, and U.S. pork fits Korean consumer demand for a wide array of convenience foods and home meal replacement items.

In Canada, September exports climbed 4 percent in volume (20,436 mt) and 9 percent in value ($77.6 million), pushing January-September volume up 3 percent to 155,713 mt, while value was steady with last year at $592.4 million.

Colombia fueled another strong month for U.S. pork in South America, where September volume was up 55 percent to 8,629 mt and value jumped 43 percent to $21.6 million. Through September, exports were 90 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (72,551 mt) and 91 percent higher in value ($186.4 million). In leading market Colombia, domestic production has not kept pace with consumption growth and U.S. pork has become a preferred ingredient for Colombia’s production of processed pork items.

Led by Honduras and Guatemala, September pork exports to Central America increased 16 percent in volume (5,176 mt) and 15 percent in value ($13.1 million). Through September, exports climbed 6 percent in volume (49,093 mt) and 8 percent in value ($118.8 million).

A strong increase in exports to the Philippines pushed September results for the ASEAN region up 33 percent in volume (4,910 mt) and 64 percent in value ($17 million). January-September volume increased 24 percent to 35,194 mt while value jumped 38 percent to $95.4 million.

Despite trending lower in September, pork exports to leading value market Japan remained steady with 2016 through the first three quarters of the year at 289,947 mt, while export value increased 3 percent to $1.19 billion. Chilled pork exports were down 3 percent from a year ago in volume (158,962 mt) but increased 2 percent in value to $750 million.

Exports to China/Hong Kong continue to reflect China’s uptick in domestic pork production, as January-September exports declined 8 percent in volume (373,814 mt) and slipped 1 percent in value ($781.1 million). But pork variety meat exports to the region remained strong in September, pushing the January-September results up 11 percent year-over-year in volume (243,016 mt) and 22 percent in value ($534.8 million).

While September exports to Australia declined from a year ago, January-September volume was still up 5 percent to 50,478 mt while value climbed 11 percent to $147.4 million.

“The September export results really illustrate the importance of having a diverse range of pork export markets,” said USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “Even with our three largest markets down year-over-year, volume kept pace with last year and value posted an increase. This is why it is so critical for USMEF to continue identifying and developing new markets for U.S. pork, especially in this time of very large production.”

Complete January-September export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

Monthly charts for U.S. pork and beef exports are also available online.