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Red Meat Exports Top $11.5 Billion; New Records for All Species
USAgNet - 02/13/2012

According to year-end statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb set new records across the board in 2011, reaching all-time highs in both volume and value and exceeding $11.5 billion in total value.

Pork exports totaled 2.255 million metric tons valued at $6.11 billion, breaking the previous volume record of 2.052 million metric tons and shattering the value record of $4.88 billion, which were both established in 2008. Year-over-year, pork exports were up 18 percent in volume and 28 percent in value.

Beef exports finished the year at 1.287 million metric tons valued at $5.42 billion. This broke the 2003 volume record of 1.274 million metric tons and easily surpassed the 2010 value record of $4.08 billion. Export volume was 21 percent larger than in 2010, with value up 33 percent.

Lamb exports totaled 18,343 metric tons valued at $30.08 million. This topped the previous record performance of 2006, when exports totaled 13,934 metric tons valued at $27.8 million. Compared to 2010, lamb export volume was up 72 percent and value increased 46 percent.

While the record-breaking performance of 2011 is impressive, Seng feels strongly that USMEF and its industry partners have laid the groundwork for even greater success in the future.

For the year, pork exports equated to 27.5 percent of total production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat. In terms of muscle cuts only, exports totaled 23 percent of total production. This was up substantially from 23.7 percent and 19 percent, respectively, in 2010. Export value per head slaughtered was $55.55, an increase of 27 percent (nearly $12) from a year ago.

In December, pork exports were down slightly from November's record performance but remained well above the previous year's pace. Exports increased 16 percent in volume (215,870 metric tons) and 32 percent in value ($582.6 million) from December 2010.

Pork exports to Japan set new records for both volume (493,313 metric tons) and value ($1.96 billion), respective increases of 13 percent and 19 percent over 2010. While slightly lower in volume (537,535 metric tons) than last year, Mexico became the first market other than Japan to import more than $1 billion in U.S. pork in a single year. Exports to Mexico jumped 6 percent in value over 2010, reaching $1.04 billion.

Beef export value per fed steer and heifer slaughtered was a record $206.37 in 2011, which was more than one-third higher than a year ago ($153.09). Beef exports equated to 14 percent of total production when including both muscle cuts and variety meat. For muscle cuts only, exports totaled 11 percent of total production. In 2010, these ratios were 11.7 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

In December, beef exports exceeded year-ago totals by about 6 percent in volume (108,691 metric tons) and 17 percent in value ($476.2 million) -- posting the highest monthly volume total since September and the highest value total since August.

Canada was the leading value market for U.S. beef in 2011, reaching $1.03 billion -- a 41 percent increase over 2010. Volume to Canada was up 25 percent to 191,047 metric tons. Mexico was the volume pacesetter at 256,938 metric tons (up 4 percent from 2010), with export value totaling $985.3 million (up 20 percent).

Exports to Japan surged 27 percent in volume (158,646 metric tons) and 37 percent in value ($874.4 million), while exports to Korea grew by 37 percent in volume (154,019 metric tons) and about one-third in value ($686 million), as the U.S. took significant market share from Australia.

The newly ratified Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement offers excellent growth opportunities for both U.S. pork and beef, but U.S. exporters are especially anxious to gain relief from Korea's 40 percent tariff on beef, which will be phased out over the next 15 years.

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