Feb 11 The United States exported a record-large
volume of pork in 2012 while the value of both pork and beef
exports was the most ever despite a decrease in shipments as the
year came to a close, government and trade group data released
on Monday showed.
Pork exports totaled 2.26 million tonnes, up narrowly from
2011, with the value of those sales up 4 percent at $6.3
billion, both records, according to the U.S. Meat Export
Federation, which compiles USDA data that was issued on Monday.
Beef export volume declined 12 percent to 1.13 million
tonnes. But the value of the sales jumped 2 percent to a record
$5.51 billion in a year that saw all-time highs in Chicago
Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures.
Growing global demand for meat propelled export volumes,
while record animal feed prices amid the worst U.S. drought in
five decades forced up meat values, analysts said.
"Certainly the changing consumer buying patterns throughout
the world has influenced demand," said Rich Nelson, analyst at
Export sales slowed in December with the beef volume down 16
percent from a year ago while the pork volume declined 14
Sale volumes should continue to the decline in 2013 due to a
smaller U.S. cattle herd and to Russia banning U.S. meat imports
containing the animal feed additive ractopamine. The additive is
used to make meat more lean.
Russia's imports of U.S. beef rose 10 percent to a record of
80,408 tonnes in 2012, while pork imports were up 33 percent.
That was before the country's ban that went into effect this
month. U.S. officials have urged the country to lift the ban.
However, the potential for increased sales to Japan, the No.
2 U.S. market after Canada, could limit the fallout of fewer
sales to Russia.
Japan last month announced that it will accept U.S. beef
from cattle up to 30 months old, a change from its previous
20-month age limit. The 20-month limit had been in place for a
decade as a safe guard against mad cow disease. Meat from the
older cattle was shipped to Japan last week, said Philip Seng,
president of the Meat Export Federation.
"The trade does have this mentality that exports will be
down this year... certainly with the Russia news taking
precedent. But if we see Japanese buying, we could change some
expectations," Nelson said.
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago; Editing by Bob