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U.S. pork exports end H1 on positive note

Staff Writer |
U.S. pork exports ended the first half of 2016 on a positive note and exports were particularly strong to China, Canada and Central America.

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This is according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports reached 187,939 metric tons (mt) in June, up eight per cent from a year ago, while export value increased 11 per cent to $505.4 million. For the first half of the year, pork export volume was up two per cent to 1.1 million mt, but value was down four per cent to $2.77 billion.

Exports accounted for 26 per cent of total pork production in June and 22 per cent for muscle cuts only – each up one percentage point from a year ago. For January through June, these ratios were 25 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, up slightly from last year.

Export value per head slaughtered was $52.83 in June – up 10 per cent from a year ago. First-half per-head value was $48.34, down five per cent.

June pork exports to China/Hong Kong remained well ahead of last year’s pace, increasing 84 per cent in volume (50,374 mt) and 73 per cent in value ($98.8 million).

But June volume was the lowest since February, reflecting some cooling of the market. Exports to China/Hong Kong finished the first half 80 per cent higher than a year ago in volume (284,900 mt) and 63 per cent higher in value ($540.5 million).

Leading pork value market Japan showed renewed momentum in June, with exports up one per cent from a year ago in volume (32,879 mt) and six per cent higher in value ($138.1 million).

First-half exports to Japan were still down 13 per cent in volume (192,862 mt) and 10 per cent in value ($749.6 million), as record volumes of chilled US pork entering Japan (109,665 mt, up 19 per cent, valued at $485 million, up 14 per cent) were offset by lower imports of frozen product.

After a strong May performance, pork exports to Mexico took a step back in June, falling 13 per cent from a year ago in volume (54,335 mt) and five per cent in value ($105.4 million). First-half export volume to Mexico was 324,745 mt, down eight per cent from a year ago, while value fell nine per cent to $566 million.

A spike in ham prices, compounded by the weak peso, significantly impacted June export results. But with ham prices moderating by mid-July, USMEF anticipates a rebound in demand.

June results were better north of the border, as pork exports to Canada totaled 16,731 mt – up 11 per cent from a year ago and the largest of 2016 – while export value increased 13 per cent to $69.5 million. This pushed first-half exports to Canada slightly ahead of last year’s pace at 96,582 mt, while value was steady at $381.6 million.

Led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala, U.S. pork posted a very strong first half in Central America as exports climbed 16 per cent from a year ago in volume (31,274 mt) and seven per cent in value ($72.5 million).

In addition to Honduras and Guatemala, exports also increased year-over-year to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Belize.

June was also a very strong month for US pork in the Philippines, a highly competitive market that purchases large volumes of raw material for further processing.

June exports to the Philippines increased 54 per cent from a year ago in volume (3,454 mt) and more than doubled in value ($10.3 million, up 126 per cent). First-half exports totaled 15,995 mt (up six per cent) valued at $37 million (up 23 per cent).

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