Double-digit export growth in exports to Mexico figured substantially across the board. Beef sales to Mexico in the first two months of 2014 were up 26% in volume to 37,638 metric tons (mt) and 40% in value ($183m), while pork exports were 16% higher in volume (113,677mt) and 21% in value ($222.3m).
Mexico is also the largest volume and value market for US lamb exports. "Mexico continues to be an invaluable trading partner for our industry," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.
USMEF also reported that beef exports were just short of record prices in February 2014, up 16% from last year. As well as exports of beef to Mexico being up in volume by 29% and 56% in value ($89.3m), exports to Japan were considerably higher than last year in both volume (14,377mt, +48%) and value ($91.7m, +40%). Hong Kong continues to be a growing market for US beef, with exports increasing 15% in volume (10,024mt) and 32% in value ($63.9m).
Pork exports were also up 2% from a year ago and the highest monthly average since March 2012. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) affected the value of pork exports to Japan, where it was 5% lower in value ($139.8m) but 7% higher in volume (35,692mt). However, since February, Japan and China have placed a temporary restriction on US imports of pork since PEDV was detected in 26 states in March 2014.
The outbreak has also reported to have driven up prices of US pork in countries affected by the virus. Meanwhile, volumes edged higher in South Korea (12,643 mt, +3%) and export value climbed 10% to $36.6m. "Just as PEDV has had an impact on domestic pork production in Mexico, it has likely been a factor in pork imports trending higher to South Korea," said Seng.
Mexico remained the biggest purchaser of US lamb, which in the first two months of the year accounted for 86.8% of the volume of lamb exports and 55.1% of the value. Overall lamb exports were up 1% in value ($2m) and 6% lower in volume (849mt).