Pork exports reached 222,015 metric tons (mt) in May, up 11% year-over-year and the fourth-largest monthly volume on record. Pork export value was $583.2 million (m), up 16%.
In May, beef exports totalled 105,321 mt, up 6% from a year ago, valued at $582.6 million, up 9%. For January through May, beef exports were up 12 % in volume (497,322 mt) and 16 % in value ($2.75bn) compared to the same period last year.
After slumping in April, lamb exports showed signs of a resurgence as May volumes reached 634 mt, up 14% from a year ago, while value increased 5% to $1.62m. Through May, lamb exports were still down 20% from a year ago in volume (3,113 mt), but increased 3 % in value to $7.9m.
US ‘extremely competitive’
Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, played down the figures. “2017 is shaping up as a very solid year for US pork and beef exports, but we remain in an extremely competitive situation in each of our key markets. That’s why it is so important to capitalise on every opportunity to increase carcase value, and this is where variety meat plays an important role. USMEF has been working with our industry partners to expand the range of variety meat product offerings and diversify their destinations, and those efforts are paying important dividends for producers.”
Pork exports to Mexico showed no signs of slowing, as May volumes climbed 21% from a year ago to 68,763 mt and export value jumped 24 % to $130m while exports to Central and South America were up 66 % in volume (14,899 mt) in May and climbed 78 % in value ($37.4m).
Japan key to US
Led by the Dominican Republic, demand for US pork was also strong in the Caribbean, where May exports increased 64% from a year ago in volume (5,843 mt) and 58% in value ($13.4m). For January through May, exports jumped 32 % from a year ago in both volume (22,726 mt) and value ($53.2m).
Beef exports to Japan maintained their momentum in May, with volume up 9 % to 25,340 mt and value up 24 % to $160.8m. Through May, exports to Japan exceeded last year’s pace by 28% in volume (123,291 mt) and 32% in value ($731.4m). This included a 45% increase in chilled beef exports to 58,000 mt, valued at $414m (up 42%). US beef now accounts for 51% of Japan’s chilled beef imports, surpassing Australia, and climbing from 40% last year.