Little growth in US exports so far
US pork exports in the first nine months of the year were up 2% on the same period in 2015, with the majority of the increase coming in the latest three months.
Shipments in the third quarter were up by 6% at 378,000 tonnes, following higher levels of production in the US during this period. The largest rise in the first nine months of 2016 was in exports to China, which were almost double the level from the previous year. Historically, the key barrier limiting pork exports to China has been the use of ractopamine in US pig production. However, a growing number of US plants are now listed as ractopamine-free and have been accredited to trade with China.
While volumes going to China rose, shipments to Mexico, the largest market for US pork remained stable. However this masks a fall in the first half of the year, offset by increases in the third quarter. Shipment of pork going to Japan, the second largest market declined by 9% compared to 2015, although this market also returned to year-on-year growth in the third quarter. This growth in the latest three months could be a sign of things to come, as rising production and falling prices make US pork more competitive against the EU on export markets.
While the volume of exports from the US increased in the first nine months of the year, the average unit value fell by 2%, leaving the overall value of shipments from the US level with the same period in 2015 at $3.04 billion.
Imports of pork to the US fell by 1% to 316,000 tonnes in the first nine months of the year, as domestic production has increased, leading to lower demand. Volumes from Canada, the largest pork supplier to the US market, were down by 9% but shipments from the EU were up 31%, mostly due to a big rise in the amount of Polish pork imported.
Mark Kozlowski, Senior Analyst
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