US February pork exports – let the good times roll

US February pork exports – let the good times roll
Apr 11, 2023

Data from the USDA shows that US pork exports continue to remain strong through February.

By Andrew Joseph,

Per USDA data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef exports in February 2023 were lower than they were at the same time in 2022, but up relative to January 2023. But that’s not all folks.

US pork exports continued to remain strong in February of 2023, seeing double-digit increases over the same time last year in both volume and value.

The data shows that US pork exports for February were at 219,729 metric tons (mt) or ~242,209.76 US tons. This is up by 11 percent relative to February 2022, while its export value showed an increase of 10 percent to US$596 million.

Those numbers include a strong month for pork variety meat exports, which jumped 40 percent to 48,000 mt (~52910.94 US tons), which was valued at US $111.8 million. That dollar amount showed an impressive jump of 25 percent upwards over the previous month, which made it the eighth-highest-ever such increase.

Through February 2023, the total US pork and pork variety meat exports increased by 12 percent to 456,496 mt (~503,200.70 US tons), with a value of US$1.24 billion—an increase of 13 percent.

“After setting a value record in 2022, the momentum for pork variety meat exports continues this year,” said Dan Halstrom, the USMEF President and Chief Executive Officer. “While this is largely attributable to a rebound in exports to China, demand is also strengthening in other markets including Mexico and the Philippines. It also reflects an improved labor situation, which has helped the U.S. industry increase its capture rate and broaden the range of destinations for pork variety meats.”

After a string of record-breaking months, pork exports to Mexico cooled slightly in February of 2023 but remained well above levels from the same period in 2022.

February 2023 volume reached 78,226 mt (~86,229.41 US tons), which is an increase of six percent from February of 2022, with an increase in value of 31 percent to US$154.7 million. This pushed the January-February totals for Mexico nine percent ahead of last year’s record pace in volume of 175,026 mt (~192,933.14 US tons) and 36 percent higher in value at US$346 million.

The data showed that pork exports to the Dominican Republic in February of 2023 more than doubled—by 106 percent) year-over-year (2022 to 2023) to reach a record 10,681 mt (~11,773.79 US tons), with an export value of US$27.7 million, which itself was up by 105 percent.

For January and February 2023 combined, pork exports in the first two months of the year to the Dominican Republic increased by some 63 percent to 18,866 mt (~20,796.21 US tons) with an export value of US $51.5 million (up by 86 percent).

Exports were also higher to the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Leeward-Windward Islands, and Netherland Antilles, which showed that combined January-February 2023 exports to the Caribbean increased by 57 percent to 21,616 mt (~23,827.56 US tons), with an export value of US$61.7 million—an increase of 74 percent.

Led by pork export growth into the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore, US February pork exports to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations consisting of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam) region totaled 4,229 mt (~4,661.68 US tons), an increase of 49 percent over the same period in 2022, now with a value of US$10.9 million—an increase of 43 percent.

Through February, exports to the region increased by 48 percent to 7,897 mt (~8,704.95 US tons), valued at US$23 million, which is a 50 percent increase.

The competitiveness of US pork has improved in the ASEAN region because of reduced tariff rates in the Philippines and Vietnam, and, per the report, because of tighter supplies of European pork.

A strong February performance for pork variety meat exports has increased January-February shipments by 37 percent over the same period last year to 95,167 mt (~104,903.66 US tons), valued at US$222.4 million—up 21 percent.

Although the increase can be seen via the 37 percent increase in demand from the China-Hong Kong market of 55,956 mt (~61,680.93 US tons), it is also true that the variety meat exports were also high in other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, the DR, Colombia, and Honduras.

US pork exports also showed strong growth in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, with February pork exports to Central America trending upwards by 14 percent based on the 10,753 mt (~11,853.15 US tons) exported, valued at US$29.6 million, an increase of 15 percent.

Shipments to Guatemala and El Salvador were the third and fourth largest on record, respectively. Through February, exports to the region increased by nine percent to 20,484 mt (~22,579.75 US tons), valued at US$57.3 million—up 14 percent.

US exports to China-Hong Kong increased by 32 percent from a year ago to 90,190 mt (~99,417.46 US tons)—an export value increase of 26 percent—to US$233.9 million. Although pork variety meat made up more than 60 percent of this total, muscle cut exports to the region also trended higher in both volume at 34,234 mt (~37,736.53 US tons) which is up 24 percent, and by export value at US$88.9 million, up 31 percent.

US pork and beef currently face retaliatory duties in China. In February 2020, China announced a duty exclusion process that allows importers to apply for relief from duties imposed in response to US Section 301 duties. When an application is successful, the rate for US beef can decline to the MFN (most favored nation) rate of 12 percent and the rate for US pork can decline to 37 percent (the MFN rate plus the 25 percent Section 232 retaliatory duty, which remains in place).

After being nearly absent from the Taiwanese market since late 2021 due to negative publicity and burdensome country-of-origin labeling regulations related to ractopamine, pork exports to Taiwan are showing signs of a rebound in 2023.

Through February of 2023, exports have more than tripled past last year’s numbers, with 944 mt (~1,040.58 US tons)—an increase of 287 percent, which is 4x the export value, an increase of 367 percent at US$3.4 million. It was just in 2020 when US pork exports to Taiwan were over 20,000 mt (22,046.23 US tons), and valued at US$54 million. Ya gotta start somewhere.

Unfortunately, the pork export market to Japan showed a contraction of four percent relative to the same time last year through February to 57,032 mt (~62,867.02 US tons), while its export value dropped by a total of 11 percent, down to US$229.7 million.

Factors for the higher decrease percentage are a weaker yen and the fact that the chilled pork shipments—important to serving Japan’s high-value retail sector—continue to see shipping delays and uncertainty on the US West Coast.

Overall, the US pork export value for the US saw $59.76 per head slaughtered—which is up by 10 percent from a year ago, while the January-February combined average increased nine percent to $58.73.

Exports accounted for 28.3 percent of the total February 2023 US pork production and 23.8 percent for muscle cuts only—up from the year-ago ratios of 25.5 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively.

For January-February, US exports accounted for 27.7 percent of total production—up from 25.5 percent—and 23.6 percent for muscle cuts, an increase of 22.7 percent.

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