US pork exports recorded their highest-ever monthly value in November, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture, compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
International pork sales accounted for 27% of total US pig meat production that month, with the average value per head of slaughtered livestock rising 6% year-on-year.
US pork sales have been greatly enhanced by the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), which has enabled most US pig meat to flow duty-free into the market. Over the 11 months to November 2017, export value to South Korea has increased by 30% to $420m.
The record-breaking month for US pork exports comes after pork volume sales broke a four-year record in February 2017.
Bottom line ‘boost’
Sales to Australia, a big market for US ham, increased by 23% to $18.4m year-on-year.
Promoting pork variety cuts has become a key strategy for USMEF in its successful attempt to boost pork exports to a number of markets. While sales slowed in November, the year-to-date sales figures showed pork variety cuts were still up by around 6% year-on-year. Export value has now generated more than $1bn for the first time ever.
“For all livestock producers, variety meat exports make a very important contribution to carcase value,” explained USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom.
“USMEF has made it a priority to help our international customers develop more uses for pork variety meat and to broaden the global market for these products. At a time of record-large pork production, it is especially gratifying to see variety meat export value jump nearly 20%, which boosts the bottom line for everyone in the supply chain.”
While Australia, South Korea and parts of South America have helped the US enjoy stellar pork growth, China and Hong Kong have dipped.
USMEF claimed the decline in sales here represented an “increase in China’s domestic pork production” – a factor other pork-exporting heavyweights such as Brazil, Canada and the EU could keep track of.