January exports of U.S. beef, pork and lamb were down sharply from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. Shipping delays caused by the West Coast labor dispute combined with a number of economic factors to drive export volumes for beef and pork to four-year lows. However, USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng noted that the situations facing U.S. beef and pork are quite different. Global beef supplies are extremely tight again this year, while pork supplies are increasing and competition in major pork export markets continues to intensify.
January pork exports were down 16 percent to 161,165 mt, valued at $455.3 million, down 15 percent. For muscle cuts only, exports fell 20 percent in volume (119,455 mt) and 18 percent in value ($374.5 million). Exports to leading volume market Mexico were down only slightly from a year ago (59,306 mt, -1 percent), while value was steady at $112.8 million. Exports to Korea posted strong increases in both volume (15,262 mt, +34 percent) and value ($51.4 million, +54 percent).
The good news for U.S. pork ended there, however, as exports to other major destinations were down across the board. The port crisis was particularly hard on chilled exports to Japan (14,465 mt, -22 percent), but excluding variety meat, total exports to Japan had already fallen below 30,000 mt per month in four out of the past five months as European product continued to gain market share. January’s combined chilled/frozen exports to Japan were 26,493 mt, down 25 percent. Europe also dominated in China/Hong Kong, where U.S. exports — 17,681 mt, down 49 percent and the smallest in nearly five years — were greatly impacted by market access issues and China’s sluggish domestic pork prices. Exports to Australia slowed in the second half of 2014 and remained weak in January (2,598 mt, -59 percent) as the EU and Canada gained market share. Even Colombia, where pork exports have climbed steadily over the past three years, saw a significant year-over-year decline in January (3,688 mt, -22 percent), although this was in comparison to record exports in January 2014.
March 10, 2015/ USMEF/ United States.