USMEF Says February Meat Exports Lower

Jamie JohansenAgribusiness, Export, Meat, USMEF

usmefThe U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has released stats on exports from February 2015. Numbers show exports are lower year-over-year, but there are signs of improvement. The complete release can be found here.

While still impacted by severe congestion in the West Coast ports, February exports of U.S. beef, pork and lamb bounced back to some degree from the totals posted in January, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the USMEF.

Conditions are steadily improving on the West Coast, where congestion related to a labor dispute slowed container traffic over the past four months. But the tentative contract agreement that eased tensions on the West Coast was not reached until Feb. 20, so this issue still had a significant impact on February meat exports.

“We didn’t see much relief from the shipping backlog until March, and container traffic in some ports still has not returned to normal,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “However, the new labor contract agreement definitely sent positive signals to our Asian buyers and allowed the U.S. meat industry to begin the process of putting this crisis behind us. The momentum exports regained in February is encouraging, and we’re looking forward to further improvement when March results are published.”

In addition to port congestion, February exports also continued to face significant challenges such as the strong U.S. dollar, large supplies from key competitors and market access barriers.

February beef exports totaled 82,991 metric tons (mt) – down 3 percent year-over-year but a 4 percent improvement over January. Export value of $535.3 million was up 12 percent from a year ago and 6 percent higher than in January. January-February volume was 162,890 mt, down 11 percent from the first two months of 2014, while value was 4 percent above last year’s pace at $1.04 billion.

February pork exports were 173,771 mt – down 5 percent year-over-year but 8 percent higher than in January. Export value was $470.7 million – down 7 percent from a year ago but 3 percent higher than in January. Cumulative 2015 totals were 334,936 mt valued at $926 million, down 10 percent in volume and 11 percent in value from January-February 2014.