CME – April's Meat Exports Down After Bumper March

"What goes up must come down," the old adage goes, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner, who add that while it does not always apply to matters economic, it certainly applies to April meat and poultry exports.
calendar icon 14 June 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

The data, released last week and over-shadowed by the concern over US and world crop production numbers, confirms anecdotal reports that export sales backed off significantly from March's torrid pace. Some highlights and implications of the release are as follows:

April US beef exports were nine per cent below those in March but still the month ranks as the 12th largest on record for US beef shipments. April exports of 223.2 million pounds, carcass weight equivalent, were 26 per cent higher than last year.

Year-to-date (YTD) beef exports amount to 856.5 million pounds, carcass weight. That figure is 30.6 per cent higher than one year ago and, perhaps more important, 10 per cent higher than January-April exports in 2003, the previous record year for US exports. That year, of course, was the last virtually complete year of data before BSE was discovered in the US in December 2003.

The largest customer for US beef exports in April was Canada at 39.6 million pounds. That is the first time Canada has ever been the largest destination for US beef. Japan, Mexico and Korea all purchased over 30 million pounds of US product while 'other markets', i.e. those outside the top 8, took 31.2 million pounds.

Beef exports to all major markets except Mexico (-7.5 per cent) and Viet Nam (-43.3 per cent) were higher than one year earlier in April. Korea, though taking only a bit more than half as much US beef in April than it did in March, led the growth in tonnage terms, increasing 13.6 million pounds (+70 per cent) from April 2010. Hong Kong was a close second in tonnage increase at +11.97 million pounds but was the clear winner in percentage terms at +251 per cent.

Pork exports were 14 per cent lower than March's all-time record level at 421.45 million pounds carcass weight. That total ranks as the fifth largest monthly export total in history, however, so we can hardly be looking for 'something wrong' in the pork export situation. March was basically an outlier driven by a huge increase of pork shipments to Korea and a record-high month for pork sales to Japan. April was still excellent – just not quite as good as a truly exceptional month in March.

Only two major US markets – Taiwan and Russia – took more pork in April than in March. Year-to-date, exports to Korea have grown by 150 million pounds (178 per cent). Japan is still our largest market, taking 491.1 million pounds YTD, 14.3 per cent more than last year.

US broiler exports totalled 497 million pounds in April, 7.6 per cent lower than last year. YTD shipments of 2.027 billion pounds were virtually unchanged from 2010. YTD shipments to Russia are 16 per cent higher than 2010 but are 80 per cent lower than in 2009.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.
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