US pork exports begin to recover
In the first six months of 2015, US pork exports were down 5% on the same period last year. Despite the overall fall, volumes in the second quarter were up 6% year on year, having been down as much as 15% in the first quarter.
The fall in exports came despite US pork production being up 7% in the first half of 2015 compared with the previous year, when output was affected by the PEDv outbreak. The dollar has remained strong against the euro into the second quarter of 2015 and so the US has continued to face stiff competition from EU exporters in key markets. However, labour disputes on the US West Coast, which had impacted volumes to some key Asian markets in the first quarter of 2015, were resolved. Nevertheless, prices had to fall in order for US pork to compete. As a result, the total value of US pork exports in January to June 2015 was down 18% on the year at $2.09bn, with the unit price down 14%.
Shipments to Mexico, the largest market, were up 10% on the year, increasing its share of US pork exports to over a third. Volumes to South Korea were up by near half as Korean import demand remains strong on the back of depressed domestic production. However, shipments to Japan, Canada and China were all down on the year. The US continues to lose market share in China, with only a small number of plants approved for export. Shipments to some smaller markets increased on the year, with volumes to several Latin American markets, such as the Dominican Republic and Honduras, rising. In the second quarter of 2015 there was some recovery in exports to Australia and China and further growth in shipments to a range of smaller markets.