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Strong Momentum Continues for U.S. Beef, Pork Exports
USAgNet - 10/18/2010

August was a solid month for both U.S. beef and pork exports as both easily outpaced the results of August 2009 and increased their gains over the cumulative totals from the first eight months of 2009.

Beef exports for the month increased 24 percent in volume and 43 percent in value compared to August 2009, totaling 92,579 metric tons valued at $373.7 million. The cumulative January-August totals were up 16 percent in volume (680,609 metric tons) and 27 percent in value ($2.57 billion). This value total is 9 percent higher than the corresponding pre-BSE value total from January-August 2003. Korea remains the largest growth market, with exports of 73,625 metric tons valued at $345 million (an increase of 131 percent and 175 percent, respectively).

On a per-head basis, beef exports equated to $159.60 per steer and heifer slaughtered in August - up from about $120.00 in August 2009. Export value for January-August equated to $144.32 per head compared to $115.25 a year ago. Exports made up 11.4 percent of production, up from 9.7 percent last year.

August pork exports were up 9 percent in volume and 16 percent in value over last year, totaling 146,459 metric tons valued at $369 million. For January through August, exports totaled 1.244 million metric tons valued at $3.11 billion. The volume is 3 percent higher than 2009, while the value is up 9 percent over last year and trails the record pace of 2008 by just 3 percent. Mexico ($644 million, up 32 percent) and Canada ($409 million, up 25 percent) led pork export value growth, but exports to Japan (the largest value market for U.S. pork) were also up 3 percent in value to $1.09 billion.

On a per-head basis, pork export value was $40.87 in August, up from $34.50 last year. For January-August, export value was $43.92 compared to $38.79 last year. Exports as a percent of total production equated to 22.4 percent in August and nearly 24 percent for the year. Both figures are up slightly from August 2009 (20 percent) and January-August 2009 (22.4 percent).

All major beef export markets showed strong growth through the first eight months of the year except for Vietnam (which is down slightly in volume but still up 12 percent in value) and Mexico, which is down 21 percent in volume and 18 percent in value. August results for Mexico were somewhat encouraging, however, as volume (20,959 metric tons) was down slightly from last year but value (just over $70 million) was 6 percent higher.

"Mexico has remained a challenging market for beef, due to the sluggish economy and a peso that has been slow to strengthen," said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "But recent results there have been more promising, so we're hopeful that our No. 1 market is getting back on track and that Mexico is beginning to share in the strong momentum U.S. beef is gaining worldwide."

Canada remains the second-largest market for U.S. beef. Export volume (98,022 metric tons) to Canada is relatively flat this year, but value is up 8 percent to $461.1 million. August was a strong month for Canada, with exports rising nearly 10 percent in volume and 25 percent in value over August 2009.

Japan is closing the gap on Canada as beef exports reached 78,879 metric tons valued at $404.3 million. Export growth to Japan has been strong and steady throughout the year, holding at 26 percent for both volume and value. August growth was slightly better, however, exceeding 30 percent over August 2009.

U.S. lamb exports to Mexico are up 56 percent in volume and 70 percent in value, easily making it the leading market in both categories. Exports to Costa Rica have also performed well this year.

Exports to the Caribbean are down 29 percent in volume and 66 percent in value despite significant growth in the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands Antilles. Exports to Canada are also down, slipping 39 percent in volume and 23 percent in value. For the year, U.S. lamb exports are down 23 percent in volume to 2,328 metric tons and 7 percent in value to $3.2 million.

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