Growth in Japan, Korea, Caribbean bolsters US pork exports

Pork exports once again led by Mexico


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November 24, 2022

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4 minutes read

September pork exports were once again led by Mexico, although shipments slipped below year-ago volume for the first time since early 2021. September exports totaled 76,084 mt, down 4.5%, but export value still increased an impressive 25% to $176.4 million, according to a report from the US Meat Export Federation. Through the first three quarters of the year, exports to Mexico remained on a record pace at 696,802 mt, up 12% from a year ago, while value increased 15% to $1.42 billion. Demand has been bolstered by a very stable Mexican peso, which has held relatively steady with year-ago levels versus the US dollar.

Pork exports to Japan rebounded in September to 31,008 mt, up 7% from a year ago, while value increased 1% to $130 million. These totals were achieved despite the historic devaluation of the yen, which has increased the cost of Japan’s imports of all commodities, including food and energy. For January through September, exports to Japan were 8% below last year’s pace at 276,294 mt, while value was down 10% to $1.15 billion.

September pork exports to South Korea climbed 40% above last year’s low volume to 12,284 mt, while value increased 39% to $43.1 million. This pushed January-September totals to 132,971 mt, up 4% from a year ago, while value increased 11% to $467.2 million. Korea recently opened a 70,000 mt, duty-free quota for imported pork, but the competitive landscape has not shifted dramatically because imports from the US, the European Union and Chile already enter Korea at zero duty. The move mainly benefited Canadian pork, which is tariffed at 8.6% for chilled and 9.6% for frozen. Mexico and Brazil also have a presence in the Korean pork market, with imports normally subject to Korea’s most favored nation (MFN) rate of 25%, but eligible for duty-free entry within the quota.

Other January-September results for US pork exports include:

  • Demand for US pork – especially pork variety meat – continues to regain momentum in China/Hong Kong. September exports to the region totaled 51,036 mt, up 12% from a year ago, while export value climbed 18% to $122.5 million. Most of the increase was in variety meats, which reached 33,113 mt – down from the record total achieved in August but still up 17% from a year ago. September muscle cut exports increased 3% to 17,923 mt. For January through September, total exports to China/Hong Kong were 40% below last year at 374,458 mt, with variety meats accounting for 62% of the volume. Value was down 33% to $972.6 million.
  • Led by record shipments to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the Leeward-Windward Islands, pork exports to the Caribbean are on a record pace through September at 71,147 mt, up 32% from a year ago, valued at $197.8 million (up 36% ). Exports to the DR reached 5,609 mt in September, up 34% from a year ago and the largest since June. January-September exports to the DR totaled 58,638 mt, up 38% from a year ago, while value increased 40% to $152.9 million. The DR suspended import duties on red meat and poultry in June, which has heightened competition in the pork market – mainly from Canada, but imports of British, Spanish and Chilean pork have also increased. The decree suspending the DR’s import duties is expected to expire in December, which will subject imports from these suppliers to the MFN rate of 25% and the US will again be the only major pork supplier with duty-free access to the DR.
  • Pork exports to Colombia are also on a record pace in 2022. September shipments to Colombia increased 9% from a year ago to 8,625 mt, while value was up 10% to $22.6 million. Through September, exports topped last year’s pace by 10% in volume (78,127 mt) and 9% in value ($185.6 million).
  • September pork exports to the ASEAN region reached 4,380 mt, up 25% from a year ago, while value increased 42% to $12.6 million. The Philippines accounted for most of this growth, but exports also trended higher to Vietnam. For January through September, exports to the region were still 50% below last year at 39,812 mt, valued at $115.2 million (down 45%).
  • Led by strengthening demand in China/Hong Kong, global exports of US pork variety meat totaled 48,202 mt in September, up 8% from a year ago, while export value increased 5% to $105.9 million. In addition to China/Hong Kong, September exports increased year-over-year to the Philippines, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Through September, pork variety meat exports trailed last year by 9% in volume (370,961 mt) and 5% in value ($904.9 million).
  • September pork export value equated to $62.37 per head slaughtered, up 10% from a year ago. The January-September average was $59.74 per head, down 7%. Exports accounted for 27.3% of total September pork production, up from 26.9% a year ago, while the ratio for muscle cuts was steady with last year at 23.1%. The January-September ratios were 26.9% and 23.4%, down from 30% and 26.4%, respectively, in the first nine months of 2021.