Following strong export figures for US red meat in March-which was marked by a new record volume for pork-exports in April slowed moderately, but were still significantly higher year-on-year, according to statistics released by the US Department of Agriculture and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef exports reached 99,786 tonnes in April, up 13% from a year ago and valued at $550.4 million, up 14%.
In the four months through April, beef exports were up 14% in volume (392,001 tonnes) and 18% in value ($2.16 billion) compared with the same period last year.
April exports accounted for 13.6% of total US beef production. Through April, exports accounted for 12.7% of total beef production (up slightly from last year).
After a record-breaking March, pork exports (http://www.efeedlink.com/search/?q=US, pork exports) in April performed solidly, reaching 203,091 tonnes, up 8% from a year ago and the largest April volume on record. Export value was up 11% to $517.5 million. For January-April, pork exports increased 15% in volume (830,738 tonnes) and 19% in value ($2.1 billion).
April pork exports as a percentage of US production ran well ahead of last year, as they accounted for 28.4% of total pork production. From January to April, exports accounted for 27.5% of total pork production (up from 24.4% last year).
"While April was a very solid month for US red meat exports, we remain in an extremely competitive situation across the world and must stay aggressive with our marketing efforts," said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.
After a strong performance in March, US lamb exports slumped in April with volume (493 tonnes) down 23% from a year ago and value falling 19% to $1.3 million. Through April, lamb exports were down 25% from a year ago to 2,479 tonnes, but were still 3% higher in value at $6.3 million.
Asian markets, according to USMEF, continued to fuel US beef export growth. In Asia, Japan emerged as the leading market for US beef in April, with exports up 15% in volume (23,540 tonnes) and 17% in value ($143.3 million). Through April, exports to Japan exceeded last year's pace by more than one-third in both volume (97,951 tonne, up 34%) and value ($570.6 million, up 35 percent).
Beef exports to South Korea, US' No. 2 market in Asia, cooled to some degree in April but remained above last year's strong pace at 11,837 tonnes (up 8%) valued at $78.5 million (up 175). In the four months through April, exports to Korea were up 19% in volume (54,388 tonne) and 27% in value ($346 million).
No. 3 Asian market for US beef, Hong Kong, had a strong April performance that pushed year-to-date exports ahead of last year's pace. April exports were up 73% in volume (11,232 tonnes) and 67% in value ($66.6 million). Through April, exports to Hong Kong totaled 37,392 tonne (up 2%) valued at $233.9 million (up 10%).
April exports to No. 4 Asian market, ASEAN, were driven by excellent results in the Philippines and Vietnam, as they more than doubled from a year ago in volume (3,783 tonnes, up 105%) and nearly doubled in value ($18.1 million, up 95%). April exports to the Philippines (1,522 tonnes) were the largest in two years and the volume shipped to Vietnam (1,035 tonnes) was the largest since 2012. For January through April, exports to the ASEAN region increased 62% from a year ago in volume (10,975 tonnes) and 48% in value ($59.9 million).
Beef exports to Taiwan, No. 5 Asian market for US beef, remained on a solid pace, with April volume up 15% to 3,753 tonnes and value up 30% to $32.9 million. Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 13,499 (up 24%) valued at $118.5 million (up 29%).
Mexico was the only major world market in which April beef exports dipped below last year's pace, totalling 17,525 tonnes (down 15%) valued at $69.2 million (down 23%). Through April, exports to Mexico were still up 7% from a year ago in volume (74,582 tonnes) but were 4% lower in value ($296 million).
Mexico No. 1 market for US pork exports
As for the pork exports in April, Mexico continued to solidify its position as the largest volume destination (58,828 tonnes, up 10% from a year ago and worth $104.7 million, up 12%). Through April, exports to Mexico were 24% higher than a year ago in volume (265,090 tonnes) and up 34% in value ($476.6 million).
In terms of value, Japan was the leading US pork destination in April, buying 32,552 tonnes (up 2%) worth $129.5 million. Through April, exports to Japan remained 5% higher than a year ago in volume (134,133 tonnes) and were up 10% in value ($540.8 million).
Besides Mexico, some markets for US pork that posted impressive April results included:
-- South Korea, whose US pork imports continued their upward trajectory in April, climbing 21% above last year in volume (14,585 tonnes) and 32% higher in value ($41 million). Through April, US pork exports to Korea were 28% ahead of last year's pace in volume (65,743 tonnes) and 37% higher in value ($177.9 million).
-- Australia, whose April US pork imports were 11% higher than a year ago in volume (5,485 tonnes) and 17% higher in value ($16 million), pushing January-April results to 26,092 tonnes (up 31%) valued at $73.8 million (up 36%).
-- Colombia, whose US pork imports in April increased 84% from a year ago in volume (5,085 tonnes) and more than doubled in value ($12.2 million, up 118%). Through April, export volume to Colombia was up 96% to 21,617 tonnes, while value jumped 104% to $48.7 million. Bolstered also by a large increase in exports to Chile, export volume to Central and South America was up 45% through April at 53,741 tonnes, while value climbed 47% to $127.8 million.
-- Philippines, whose US pork imports in April increased 91% from a year ago in volume (3,430 tonnes) and soared 217% in value to $9.2 million. This pushed January-April exports to the Philippines to 11,217 tonnes (up 14%) valued at $28.3 million (up 42%). Exports to the ASEAN region through April were 6% ahead of last year's pace in volume (12,907 tonnes), while value was up 28% to $33.4 million.