US red meat exports were bullish in the first 11 months of 2012, driven by record-setting pork sales and higher prices for beef, according to USDA data.
The data, which was compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), revealed that US pork exports in the period were up 2% in volume and 5% in value compared to the same period in 2011. November volumes were down 7.7% and value down 5.4% year-on-year, but USMEF pointed out that this was against a high level, with November 2011 still ranking as the second-best month in history for US pork exports.
Mexico remained the biggest destination for US pork, with a 7.2% volume increase in November, pushing the 11-month total to 550,408 mt, a 15% increase on the same period last year. The value of exports for the first 11 months increased 11% to $1bn.
Pork exports to Japan, Canada, South Korea, Russia and Central/South America all saw increases in volume and value in November, with exports to Japan looking to hit $2bn over the year.
Volumes of beef exports fell by 11% in the first 11 months of 2012, reflecting declining US production during the year. However, the value of exports was up 2% on 2011’s record levels, at $5.05bn. This reflected high prices in markets such as Canada and Japan, which saw a 13% and 19% increase in beef export values respectively over the year to November.
"While volumes are lower, the quality and reputation of US red meat products have helped support higher values," said USMEF president and CEO Philip Seng.
The resolution of a ractopamine-related ban on US beef by Taiwan boosted export value in November, with encouraging signs for 2013. However, pork exports continue to be affected by the ban, USMEF said.
Lamb exports were slow throughout the year, with volumes down 27% over the first 11 months and 22.3% in November. However, while value sales were also down 13% over the year, there was a 12.4% increase in the value of lamb exports in November, which USMEF put down to "the strength of strong sales to the top lamb export market, Mexico".