US exports increase in the first quarter
US exports of fresh and frozen pork increased in the first quarter of 2016, up 5% to 372 thousand tonnes.
This was largely driven by a significant increase in the volume of pork shipped to China, which was nearly four times more than the same period a year earlier. At the end of 2015, China relisted 16 establishments from the US that participate in the ractopamine free programme, which has meant that these facilities are now eligible to export to China. Therefore, it may be expected that US shipments to China will continue to increase throughout the year.
Once again, Mexico was the largest importer of US pork, although volumes were down by 9% in Q1 2016 versus the same period last year. The strong dollar may have assisted in dampening down shipment levels. Domestic production is increasing in Mexico but cannot keep pace with rising consumption, so it is still forecast that there will be a strong import demand to satisfy this need.
While volumes of fresh/frozen pork exports have increased throughout the quarter, this has been at the expense of value. The value of shipments decreased by 8% in the first quarter, compared with Q1 2015, and the average unit price fell by 13% year on year, to $2.46/kg. The increased production levels in the US have helped to slide the price lower, coupled with low global prices and the strong dollar, creating a downwards pressure on US prices if they wish to remain competitive.
Vikki Campbell, Senior Analyst
vikki.Campbell@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8741