U.S. beef and pork exports increased by double digits in volume and by an even healthier margin in value in April, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Higher prices commanded in the global market have driven up per-head export values for both U.S. beef and pork, as international customers have, so far, been willing to pay higher prices for larger volumes, USMEF says.
For the month of April, total U.S. pork exports rose 11% over year-ago levels in volume to 192,924 metric tons valued at $596 million, a 26% increase. For the first four months of 2014, pork exports are up 11% in volume to 776,601 mt valued at $2.25 billion, a 14% rise.
The U.S. exported 99,297 mt of beef in April valued at $537.4 million, increases of 15% and 24%, respectively. Year-to-date, beef exports are up 10% in volume and 17% in value to 376,377 mt valued at $2.05 billion.
"Even with a plentiful supply of EU pork products in the marketplace and large volumes of Australian beef, we are still seeing demand grow in most of our key markets and remain steady in others," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.
"It is encouraging to see solid growth in sales to markets where the U.S. industry has made the biggest commitment in resources. A good example would be Korea, where export volumes have struggled since 2012 but, as Korea's domestic supply levels of beef and pork normalize, we are seeing a robust rebound in demand for U.S. products," he said.
Pork exports in April accounted for 28% of total U.S. pork production and 23% of muscle cuts alone, increases from 25 and 21%, respectively, over last April. Export value per head slaughtered equated to $67.35 for the month, up from $50.75 a year ago.
Mexico was the top volume market, up 42% in value to $132 million on 1% higher volume, while volumes to Japan set a new monthly record of 48,507 mt.
South Korea imported its largest volume of U.S. pork since March 2012 with 17,126 mt (up 95%) valued at $51 million, while Canada rebounded slightly in April with volume up 4% and value up 27%.
Colombia also continues to report higher volumes and values: up 76% and 74%, respectively.
Beef exports in April accounted for 14% of total U.S. beef production and 11% of muscle cuts alone, increases from 12% and 9%, respectively, last April.
Export value per head of fed slaughter equated to $262.41 for the month, up from $207.70 a year ago. Strong beef exports to Asia helped support near-record prices for short plates, short ribs and chuck short ribs.
In Mexico, volume was up 16% to 18,668 mt valued at $86 million, a 31% increase over April of 2013, although off March highs, contributed to sustained high prices for U.S. rounds and shoulder clods.
Japan was the top destination for U.S. beef in April, taking 20,614 mt – down 4% but valued at $130.6 million.
Hong Kong and South Korea both reported higher volumes – up 99% and 27%, respectively. Values were up 133% and 53% for the two countries.
Volume was up 11% to 3,915 mt and value up 40% to $16 million in Central and South American, paced by Chile, up 52% in volume to 1,449 mt and 50% in value to $7.3 million.