U.S. beef exports struggle in September; Pork moves higher

U.S. beef exports struggle in September; Pork moves higher

Beef exports down 21% in volume over a year ago

Beef exports in September endured the "most difficult month in some time" according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, while pork exports showed modest improvement.

The data, provided by USDA and compiled by USMEF, showed beef export volume down 21% from a year ago in September to 79,474 metric tons and value down 28% to $456.6 million – the lowest since January.

For the first nine months of 2015, beef exports were down 12% in volume (782,705 mt) and 8% in value ($4.8 billion).

U.S. beef exports struggle in September; Pork moves higher (Thinkstock/PilinPetunyia)

September pork export volume was up 6% from a year ago to 172,012 metric tons (mt). Export value was $456.1 million, down 11% year-over-year but the highest since May. Pork exports through the first nine months of the year declined 4% in volume (1.58 million mt) and 17% in value ($4.21 billion) compared to January-September 2014.

U.S. pork export highlights
Pork export value per head slaughtered was $46.90 in September, down $11.21 from last year. For January through September, per head value was down $15 to $49.45. January-September exports accounted for just over 24% of total pork production and nearly 21% for muscle cuts only – down from 27% and 23%, respectively, during the first nine months of 2014.

Exports to Mexico, the leading volume destination for U.S. pork, fell slightly in volume in September but climbed 5% through the first nine months of the year to 529,798 mt, while export value fell 20% to $932.6 million.

• September exports to Canada were the largest of 2015, though January-September volume was still down 5% to 148,669 mt and value was 13% lower at $589.9 million.

• Central/South America took 89,712 mt through September, up four% from a year ago, as growth to Honduras and Chile offset smaller volumes to Colombia. Export value to the region fell 6% to $226.1 million.

• January-September exports to South Korea were up 34% in volume (129,314 mt) and 23% in value ($373.8 million), though the market cooled in September, falling below last year's monthly volumes for the first time in 2015.

• Japan remains the leading value market for U.S. pork, despite January-September value declining 18% year-over-year to $1.23 billion. Export volume to Japan was down 12% to 314,760 mt.

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Few bright spots for September beef exports
Beef export value in September equated to $233.80 per head of fed slaughter – down nearly $80 from a year ago. For January through September, per-head value was $280.46 – down $6.36 from the same period last year. Exports equated to 13% of total beef production and 10% for muscle cuts only – both down 1%age point from the first nine months of last year.

September exports to leading market Japan fell 34% in volume (15,386 mt) and 36% in value ($99.7 million) from a year ago. For the first nine months of the year, exports to Japan were down 12% in volume (161,961 mt) and 14% in value (just over $1 billion).

Other notable results for beef exports include:

• September exports to Korea were the lowest since January, but January-September volume was still up 9% to 92,577 mt, while value was 4% higher at $612.9 million.

• Exports to Taiwan were also below year-ago levels in September but still up 5% in volume (26,772 mt) and 12% in value ($241.3 million) for the first nine months of the year.

• January-September exports to Mexico totaled 161,356 mt (down 10% year-over-year), valued at $808.4 million (down 6%).

• September exports to Hong Kong rebounded somewhat from low summer totals but results for the first nine months of the year were down 26% in both volume (78,612 mt) and value ($565.1 million) from a year ago.

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