U.S. beef exports rose to a record in 2013; pork sales fell

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb 7, 2014 - U.S. beef exports rose to a record $6.157 billion last year, a 12 percent jump, while overseas pork sales fell, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said.

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Beef shipments increased 3 percent in volume, to 1.17 million metric tons, led by strong sales to Japan, which were up 54 percent in volume (234,615 tons) and 35 percent in value ($1.389 billion), the USMEF said, citing USDA statistics. Japan's purchases were just below the 2003 pre-mad cow mark of $1.391 billion, although volume was only 62.5 percent of that year's total. Japanese import records show U.S. market share rose from 26 percent to 36 percent in 2013, mainly regaining share from Australia.

Pork exports totaled $6.05 billion, topping $6 billion for the third consecutive year, but declined 4 percent in value and 5 percent in volume from 2012's record pace, finishing at 2.14 million tons.

“2013 presented a new set of challenges,” USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said in a news release. “Last year, the closure of the Russian market to U.S. red meat products and our continued absence from the dynamic beef market in the People's Republic of China stand out.”

Beef sales to Hong Kong set a new annual record, with volume doubling to 130,017 tons and value surging 142 percent to $823.3 million. Exports to Central and South America also were the highest ever at 42,104 tons (up 24 percent) valued at $156.4 million (up 17 percent).

Pork exports to Japan - the biggest overseas customer for the meat - fell 7 percent in volume to 424,858 tons, and 5 percent in value to $1.89 billion. Volume fell for a second straight year, dropping 14 percent since 2011.

“There is no question that Japan is the No. 1 target for every pork exporting nation,” said Seng. “While the U.S. has enjoyed a dominant share of the pork import market there in recent years, our competitors are working tirelessly to increase their visibility and market share.”

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