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Strong finish to 2016 beef, pork exports sets record

U.S. pork and beef exports made a strong finish in 2016, resulting in records being set for the year.  Pork exports reached a record 2.3 million metric tons in 2016, up 8 percent from 2015, according to USDA figures.  Exports were up despite the strong dollar, according to Phil Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

“We have a practice we call intensified customer contact where we really go out and go door-to-door as far as the trade, really extolling the merits and virtues of our product,” Seng told Brownfield Ag News Thursday, “so there’s a lot that’s been going on in spite of the headwinds.”

2016 U.S. beef exports increased 11 percent from 2015 to almost 1.2 million metric tons.  When poultry is counted, U.S. animal protein exports are about a quarter of its production, which, said Seng, can be the difference between profit and loss.

“Everything that we export, especially in the beef and the pork complex, is exported for more than we’d sell it domestically, so that creates upward pressure on prices,” he said.  “So the more that we can capture larger shares of the export market and keep those numbers increasing, the better it is for the producers across the whole width of the beef and pork industry.”

Seng says foreign sales of meat add what he calls an export dividend of about $300 a head for cattle and about $60 a head for hogs.

AUDIO: Phil Seng (8 min. MP3)

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