May U.S. pork exports were up 3% in volume from a year ago and 9% higher in value at $524.3 million, according to USMEF calculations on data released by the USDA .
Through the first five months of the year, pork exports exceeded last year's record pace by 6% in volume and 15% in value.
Pork export value surges in most major markets
With the exceptions of South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, U.S. pork export value is trending upward to every major destination. Exports to Korea were extremely high in 2011, due in part to a foot-and-mouth disease-related shortage of domestic pork and temporary duty-free access for a large volume of imports. U.S. exports to Korea through May stood at 77,790 metric tons valued at $222.8 million, down 32% in volume and 19% in value from last year's record pace, but still far exceeding exports in the first five months of any previous year.
Mexico continues to perform well as the leading volume destination for U.S. pork, and ranks No. 2 in value. While May exports to Mexico were about even with last year, exports through the first five months of the year were 15% higher in volume (254,059 metric tons) and 13% higher in value ($463.6 million). USMEF recently launched a campaign to build overall demand in Mexico by enhancing the image of pork and broadening its appeal among Mexican consumers.
"USMEF has reached agreements with several major supermarket chains in Mexico - totaling more than 500 outlets - to help USMEF promote pork through advertising and point-of-sale materials and to collect important sales data for evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign," explained USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "Per capita pork consumption in Mexico is only about 25 pounds per year, compared to 47 pounds in the United States. So we feel there is still great potential for expansion of overall demand, with the U.S. industry positioned to be the primary beneficiary."
Japan remains the leading value destination for U.S. pork, with exports through May reaching $869.1 million. This is 10% above last year's record pace, despite a 5% decline in volume (199,061 metric tons).
Other pork highlights for January-May 2012 include:
-Despite an upswing in domestic pork supplies and a softening of the hog market in China, exports to the China/Hong Kong region were up 34% in volume (192,926 metric tons) and 83% in value ($389.2 million).
-Exports to Canada were up 14% in volume (91,424 metric tons) and 19% in value ($328.7 million).
-In the first year under a new quota system, exports to Russia are off to an excellent start – 35% higher in both volume (39,132 metric tons) and value ($115 million).
-In the Central and South America region, where U.S. pork and beef are currently on display at the USMEF Latin American Product Showcase in Bogota, Colombia, pork exports were up 13% in volume (33,266 metric tons) and 16% in value ($85 million). This expansion was led by growth in Colombia, where exports were up 62% in volume (5,596 metric tons) and more than doubled in value ($15.9 million).
-The controversy over beta agonists continues to create a difficult business climate in Taiwan, where pork exports were down 45% in volume and 29% in value at $18.2 million. Larger domestic supplies have also impacted this market, as Taiwan's pork imports from all sources are down nearly 40% this year.
Lamb exports trend lower
After last year's record performance, U.S. lamb exports have endured a difficult start in 2012. Through May, exports were down 36% in volume (5,109 metric tons) and 20% in value ($10.1 million). Exports to leading market Mexico were down 7% in volume and 3% in value, and results were significantly lower in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Panama was a bright spot in this region, however, as exports were up 71% in volume (29 metric tons) and 165% in value ($105,000).
Complete export statistics for U.S. pork and lamb are available here.