CME: Mixed Picture for January Meat Product Exports

US - The export picture for US meat products was mixed in January. US pork exports were sharply lower, largely due to the decline in exports to China/Hong Kong. On the other hand, beef and poultry exports were higher, both in terms of volume and revenue, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.
calendar icon 11 March 2013
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Below are some of the highlights:

Exports of fresh/frozen and cooked pork products in January were 142,661 MT, 25,471 MT or 15.1 per cent lower than the previous year. The value of US fresh/frozen and cooked pork exports in January was $437 million, down almost $55 million or 11 per cent fropm a year ago. More than half of the decline in shipments was accounted by the drop in exports to China and Hong Kong. Pork prices in China have stabilized in recent months as domestic supplies have recovered and this has limited demand for US pork. Total exports to the China and Hong Kong markets were just 13,236 MT, 56 per cent lower than a year ago. Exports to China alone were down $38 million or 67 per cent from a year ago. US pork exports to Japan continue to struggle, with shipments in January down 8 per cent from a year ago. Exports to South Korea, another important market for US pork were down 21 per cent from a year ago. The South Korean domestic pork industry has recovered from the significant declines it experienced in 2011 when an FMD outbreak forced the liquidation of about 12 per cent of the swine population. South Korean domestic pork production was estimated to be up 27 per cent in 2012 and will likely be only modestly lower in 2013. Again, it is important when looking at export numbers to markets like China and South Korea and distinguish between export gains that are due to short term events such as disease outbreaks and long term sustainable gains due to permanent shifts in demand.

Beef exports were higher in January. Total shipments of fresh/frozen and cooked beef were estimated at 63,438 MT, about 2800 MT or 4.6 per cent higher than a year ago. Beef exports would have been much higher had it not been for an almost 100 per cent decline in exports to the Russian market. Beef exports to Mexico also remain disappointing, with shipments in January down 25 per cent from a year ago. Beef shipments to Hong Kong rose 151 per cent in January. Beef prices in China and Hong Kong have increased sharply in the last two years and these two markets have emerged as major global beef buyers, sourcing product both in South America, Oceania and North America (only Hong Kong as China still continues to ban US beef). Indeed, China became the third largest buyer of Australian beef in February, surpassing South Korea. US beef exports to Japan were up 7 per cent from relatively low levels last year. This was before the new rules on US beef went into effect so we will have to wait a bit longer to understand the full impact of the new cattle age requirements. Canada remains a big buyer of US beef, thanks to a strong Canadian dollar and smaller beef supplies in Canada.

US chicken exports in January were 230,194 MT, a little over 9000 MT or 4.1 per cent higher than a year ago. The increase was due entirely due to a big jump in exports to Russia, which were 11,777 MT or 109 per cent higher than a year ago.

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