The data showed that, in January, pork exports rose by 28% in volume and 43% in value, while beef exports held up in volume and rose 14% in value.
Pork exports were bolstered by strong performance in China, with volumes up 88% to 36,175 metric tons and value up an impressive 158% to $75.1m. Mexico, the biggest importer of US pork, saw volumes increase by 31% and value by 27%, while Japan, Canada and South Korea also saw double figure sales increases. In total, the US exported 211,457 metric tons of pork, which was valued at $566.9m.
Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, said: “In some markets, such as Japan, we are reaching into new secondary markets and niches like the sozai (deli) segment. In others, like South Korea, we’re focused on sustaining the progress we made last year and preparing for the imminent implementation of the Korea-US free trade agreement (FTA).”
Beef exports also saw growth in Japan, with volumes up 2% to 9,688 metric tons and value up 26% to $59.6m. The Middle East saw the biggest growth, with volumes up 12% to 13,047 metric tons and value up 14% to $29m. Export volumes to Mexico, Canada and South Korea were all down slightly, but the value of exports to all of these markets increased. In total, 89,454 metric tons were exported, while value was up 14% to $405.9m.
Seng said that the US beef industry was focusing its energy on market diversification, with the Central and Southern America region and Russia both in the spotlight. Exports to Central and South America increased by 73% in volume and 79% in value in January, while Russia has recently expanded its export tariff rate quota by nearly 20,000 metric tons.
He also expressed confidence that Japan would increase access to US beef products this year, with exports currently limited to animals under the age of 21 months of age, due to fears over BSE.
Lamb exports were also relatively strong in January, with exports to Mexico, which accounts for 74.5% of total lamb exports, increasing by 31% to 1,021 metric tons and 25% in value to $1.1m.
Seng said that overall red meat performance in January showed that the momentum was continuing after last year’s record red meat exports.
“There is a challenge to follow a very successful year like 2011 and sustain the momentum. The good news is that there are opportunities to expand the presence of US red meat by exploring new market niches as well as increasing access with several key trading partners,” he said.