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U.S. pork, beef exports remain strong, on track to set records

U.S. pork and beef exports remained strong in June, pushing export value for both products to a record first-half pace according to statistics released by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

June pork exports totaled 181,531 metric tons, up 7 percent from a year ago, while export value increased 25 percent to $585.1 million. In the first half of 2014, pork export volume (1.15 million metric tons, up 9 percent) and value ($3.4 billion, up 17 percent) achieved record highs.

Beef exports were up 5 percent in volume (106,609 metric tons) in June and set a new monthly value record of $631.7 million (up 12 percent). First-half export value also set a new record of $3.27 billion (up 16 percent). Export volume was 585,953 metric tons in the first half, up 8 percent from a year ago but trailing the 2011 record.

Pork export value per head slaughtered was a record-high $72.24 in June, up $15 from a year ago. The percentage of U.S. production exported was 25 percent for muscle cuts and 29 percent when including both muscle cuts and variety meat — up from 24 percent and 28 percent, respectively, from June 2013. With European pork absent from the Russian market for the past six months due to an impasse over African swine fever, competition has intensified in key Asian markets. But U.S. pork still achieved first-half increases in South Korea and Japan.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter set another new record in June at $299.14, up $38.93 from a year ago. The ratio of U.S. production exported was 12 percent for muscle cuts and 15 percent for muscle cuts and variety meat combined — up from 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively, from a year ago.

Soy meal exports surge

U.S. soybean meal exports are headed toward a record year, according to the latest United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) weekly report.

The report showed outstanding sales plus accumulated shipments have reached 10 million metric tons for the current marketing year, which ends in September. Exports to Europe and Southeast Asia have supported the record sales pace. U.S. soybean meal re-entered Thailand with more than 300 million metric tons, and another 200 million metric tons was added to the Philippines program.

Ethanol exports climb

U.S. exports of ethanol totaled 59.9 million gallons in June, up 13 percent from the seven-month low in May, according to the Renewable Fuel Association’s analysis of government data released last week.

Year-to-date exports through the first half of 2014 stood at 416.5 million gallons, indicating an annualized total of 833 million gallons for the calendar year.

Spain was a new destination for U.S. ethanol in June and the United States was a net exporter for the tenth straight month. Meanwhile, U.S. fuel ethanol imports fell to 7.3 million gallons in June, down 75 percent from the eight-month high of 28.7 million gallons in May.

DDG exports strong

Exports of distillers dried grains (DDG) continued to soar in June, according to data released last week. DDG exports totaled 1.01 million metric tons in June, down 6 percent from May but still one of the highest monthly totals on record. Year-to-date exports stood at 6.01 million metric tons at the 2014 halfway point. China again was the top destination for U.S. DDG, receiving 580,907 metric tons, or 57 percent of the total.

Dairy export concerns

Though cheese sales to overseas markets helped lead the gains in U.S. dairy exports during the first half of 2014, there’s concern.

"Butter exports have fallen below year-ago levels for the second straight month as the U.S. market has become extremely uncompetitive to the rest of the world," says HighGround Dairy, a firm specializing in dairy risk management.

Lactose, whey protein and dry whey exports have dropped. "In most categories, the U.S. has gone from being at a price advantage to the rest of the world to [being] on an island with some of the highest prices in the industry," the team notes. "This casts a bearish shadow for U.S. export prospects in the not-too-distant future."

PEDV continues spread

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) is making its way through Japanese pig herds, just as it has in the United States, Pork Network reported last week. The largest pork-producing prefectures are dealing with the disease, and market hog numbers are expected to be lower this fall.

The shipment forecast for Oct­­ober is expected to be almost 12 percent lower than last year. Slaughter numbers will be approximately 4 percent lower than last year for the third and fourth quarters.