U.S. pork and beef exports wrapped up an excellent 2016 performance with very strong December results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.
Pork export volume reached a record 2.31 million metric tons (mt) in 2016, up 8 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above the previous high in 2012. Export value increased 7 percent from a year ago to $5.94 billion. December pork exports totaled 222,635 mt, up 18 percent year-over-year, valued at $564.2 million, up 20 percent.
Exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total 2016 pork production and 21.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, in 2015. December ratios were 28 percent for total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – up significantly from December 2015. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $50.20 in 2016, up 4 percent from the previous year. The December average was $56.06, up 24 percent.
Beef exports increased 11 percent in volume (1.19 million mt) and 1 percent in value ($6.34 billion) from 2015. December exports totaled 116,847 mt, up 24 percent year-over-year. This was the largest monthly volume since July 2013 and the largest ever for December. Export value was $619.1 million in December, up 22 percent.
Exports accounted for 13.7 percent of total beef production in 2016 and 10.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 13.1 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2015. December exports accounted for 15.6 percent of total December beef production and 12.1 percent for muscle cuts only – each up more than 2 percentage points from a year ago and the highest since 2011. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $262.17, down 6 percent from 2015, but the December average was $301.97 – up 14 percent and the highest in nearly two years.
Pork to Mexico sets fifth straight volume record; China/Hong Kong also record-large
A remarkable second half pushed 2016 pork export volume to Mexico to its fifth consecutive record at 730,316 mt – breaking the previous record by 2 percent. Export value to Mexico totaled $1.36 billion, up 7 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record, trailing only the $1.56 billion mark reached in 2014.
“At this time of record-large pork production, it would be hard to overstate the importance of Mexican demand to the U.S. industry,” said Philip Seng, USMEF President and CEO. “This is especially true for hams, as we are locked out of Russia – once a large destination for U.S. hams – and China’s demand for imported hams has moderated in recent months. So now more than ever, we need strong demand from our key customers in Mexico, and they have responded with extraordinary results. December exports to Mexico accounted for nearly $16 per head, and that’s absolutely critical to the entire U.S. pork supply chain.”
Though down from the high levels seen earlier in the year, December pork exports to China/Hong Kong were still up 40 percent year-over-year in volume (47,242 mt) and 42 percent higher in value ($96 million). For the full year, exports to China/Hong set a new volume record of 544,943 mt (up 61 percent) and broke the $1 billion mark for the first time ($1.07 billion, up 53 percent).
Other 2016 highlights for U.S. pork exports include:
- Japan remained the leading value destination for U.S. pork, though exports fell 5 percent in volume (387,712 mt) and 2 percent in value ($1.56 billion) compared to 2015. However, chilled exports to Japan set a new record of 218,211 mt, up 8 percent.
- Led by a record performance in Central America and a fourth-quarter surge in Colombia and Chile, exports to the Central/South America region increased 11 percent in volume (135,954 mt) and 9 percent in value ($334.5 million).
- Pork shipments increased to both Australia and New Zealand, as export volume to Oceania reached 69,963 mt (up 10 percent) valued at $197.3 million (up 3 percent).
- Exports to the Dominican Republic set another record in 2016, topping the previous year’s totals by 10 percent in volume (25,591 mt) and 6 percent in value ($56.4 million).
- Fueled by increases in China/Hong Kong and Canada and steady exports to Mexico, pork variety meat exports jumped 20 percent in volume to 523,199 mt and 24 percent in value to $999 million – just short of the record levels reached in 2014.
Asian markets drive strong beef export growth
Driven by strong demand for higher-value chilled cuts, beef exports achieved new value records in South Korea and Taiwan in 2016, and rebounded strongly in Japan.
In Korea, December beef exports soared by 81 percent in volume (20,333 mt) and 88 percent in value ($130 million) from a year ago, capping a remarkable year in which exports totaled 179,280 mt (up 42 percent) valued at $1.06 billion – up 31 percent from a year ago and breaking the previous value record by more than 20 percent. Korea’s per capita beef consumption set a new record in 2016 of 34 pounds (carcass weight) – so the U.S. not only gained market share, but also capitalized on the market’s overall growth.
Beef exports to Taiwan were also strong in December, with export value ($43.3 million) hitting its highest level ever. Full-year exports to Taiwan were up 25 percent in volume to 44,053 mt and 14 percent in value to $362.8 million.
2016 exports to Japan were the largest of the post-BSE era at 258,653 mt, up 26 percent year-over-year. Export value totaled $1.51 billion, up 18 percent. Chilled beef exports to Japan totaled 112,334 mt, up 44 percent from 2015.
“In addition to the strength of the U.S. dollar, U.S. beef overcame other severe challenges in these north Asian markets and achieved remarkable results,” Seng said. “Despite facing higher tariff rates in Japan compared to Australian beef, U.S. beef displaced its competition and won back significant market share. And the investment the U.S. industry made to rebuild consumer confidence in Korea is paying tremendous dividends, especially in the retail sector. We’re seeing U.S. beef featured regularly by retailers who were once reluctant to carry the product.”
Other 2016 highlights for U.S. beef included:
- Beef exports to Mexico increased 7 percent year-over-year in volume to 242,373 mt, though value fell 11 percent to $974.9 million. While challenged by a weak peso, Mexico remains a key destination for muscle cuts such as shoulder clods and rounds, as well as for beef variety meat.
- Led by strong growth in Chile and a doubling of exports to Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 6 percent in volume to 22,810 mt, valued at $92.7 million (down 2 percent). The region should see further growth in 2017 with the reopening of Brazil.
- Exports to Central America were up 7 percent in volume (12,745 mt) with top market Guatemala up 1 percent and exports to Honduras nearly doubling. Export value was $71.8 million, up 1 percent.
- Fueled by a resurgence in Indonesia and solid growth in Vietnam, beef exports to the ASEAN region were up 41 percent in volume (29,920 mt) and 15 percent in value ($156.9 million). Indonesia expanded access for U.S. beef in early August. Despite being closed to many products through the first seven months of the year, U.S. exports to Indonesia set a new value record of $39.4 million.
- Beef variety meat exports increased 10 percent in volume (341,433 mt) and 4 percent in value ($902.2 million) in 2016. Liver exports increased 12 percent to 81,727 and reached a broader range of markets. While liver exports to Egypt – the largest destination for U.S. livers – increased 4 percent, further growth was achieved in Central and South America and with the reopening of South Africa to U.S. beef.
Lamb muscle cut exports continue upward trend
Although U.S. lamb exports were down in 2016, this was largely due to a sharp decline in variety meat exports. While total exports fell 11 percent in volume (8,248 mt) and 4 percent in value ($18.3 million), muscle cut exports increased 26 percent (2,239 mt) and 16 percent ($12.3 million) respectively. Leading market Mexico followed a similar pattern, as variety meat exports declined significantly, but muscle cut exports increased 9 percent in volume (965 mt) and 1 percent in value ($2.8 million). Emerging markets showing promise in 2016 included Bermuda, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.