US pork prices regain momentum

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

US pork prices regain momentum

Related tags Beef Us Pork

US pork export valued reached US$58.17 per hog slaughtered in February, up 14% year-on-year, leading to a 21% increase in export value (US$526.2m), according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Pork exports surpassed US$1bn for the first time in the first two months of 2012, reaching US$1.09bn and 399,086 million tonnes (mt) in volume, up 31% and 18% respectively from last year.

Export volumes also showed an increase, reaching 187,629mt in February (up 9%), or 27.7% of total production. US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO Philip Seng said: “Export results were quite solid, especially considering the impact of market access issues in some destinations, particularly Taiwan and south-east Asia. We continue to expand the presence of US pork in all key destinations – especially in north Asia and in western hemisphere markets.”

Shipments to Mexico decreased from December and January, but surpassed the volumes recorded in February 2011 in volume and value. For the first two months of 2012, exports to Mexico went up 20% in volume and 24% in value compared to the same period last year, reaching 113,424mt and US$208m.

Exports to Japan went up 8% in volume to 80,316mt, and 17% in value to US$342m compared to February 2011.

“It takes a strong effort at every level to keep these mainstay markets performing at such a strong pace. The retail, foodservice and processing sectors are all critically important to the US industry’s ability to remain the leading supplier to both Japan and Mexico, and USMEF continues to target them aggressively. We also are very focused on the branded market in Japan, which offers fertile ground for expanding sales of US pork,”​ added Seng.

US pork performed strongly in China, increasing 39% in volume (78,193mt) and 94% in value (US$158.2m) in the first two months of 2012. However, February volumes were at their lowest level since June 2011, affected by the ractopamine controversy in Taiwan. Exports to the region went down 19% in volume, despite maintaining value at US$10.4m.

Shipments to the ASEAN region also went down in volume (-18%), due to regulatory issues with the Philippines and Singapore.

Exports to South Korea went up 11% in volume (36,399mt) and 28% in value (US$104m), ahead of the Korea-US free-trade agreement (FTA) that took effect in March.

Shipments to Canada and Australia also increased in both volume and value, reaching US$129.9m and US$38.9m respectively, while South America showed strong demand, up 18% in volume and 23% in value.

Beef down in volume; up in value

Despite a 3% year-on-year decrease in volume in February, beef exports showed continued strength in value, up 10% to US$409m. For the first two months of the year, the increase was 12% to US$815m, although overall volumes went down 2%.

“In the beef complex, export volume may be struggling somewhat, due to price, but we are having great success directing beef cuts to the markets that value them most. This is keeping beef export value very strong – well ahead of the record pace established last year,”​ Seng added.

Per-head export value went up 14% year-on-year, reaching US$208.50 from last year’s US$182.12. US beef performed particularly well in Russia, where volumes increased by 58% and value tripled, reaching US$38.2m in the first two months of the year. USMEF said this was due to an increase in muscle cut tariff quotas from 41,700mt in 2011 to 60,000mt this year.

Beef exports to the Middle East grew by 13% in volume and 19% in value, led by strong results in Egypt, while shipments to South America increased 63% in volume (5,651mt) and 91% in value (US$21.8m).

Seng explained: “Export growth in these markets is reflective of a very successful effort to expand the global footprint of US beef. At one time, these markets were only a small factor in our global results, and buyers were exclusively interested in variety meat. But the US industry has made great strides in marketing beef muscle cuts, many of which are under-utilised domestically.”

USMEF forecasts reduced export volumes to Taiwan in March, due to the “unsteady regulatory environment”​ caused by the ractpamine dispute.

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