Despite challenging issues, such as the struggling global economy and trade barriers, U.S. poultry and livestock farmers enjoyed a record year for meat exports, which helps keep domestic demand for U.S. soy strong.
U.S. poultry, egg and pork shipments exceeded previous highs for value and volume set in 2011. International beef sales dipped slightly in volume but broke the previous value record.
Growing U.S. meat and poultry exports reinforce demand for U.S. soy since soy meal constitutes a significant portion of animal feeds. Domestic animal agriculture uses about 98 percent of the domestic supply of U.S. soy meal, making it the U.S. soy industry's No. 1 customer.
"Exporting meat and poultry is a big issue for U.S. soybean farmers," says John Butler, a farmer-leader from Dyersburg, Tenn. "If we can feed animals soybeans here and sell them abroad, we're creating a value-added product. Adding that value here has a tremendous positive impact on not only the U.S. soy industry but the national economy as well."
Poultry and hogs remain the biggest users of U.S. soy meal. According to the most recent statistics, poultry consume roughly 12.9 million metric tons annually. That's the meal from 601 million bushels of soybeans. And hogs account for 6.8 million metric tons of U.S. soy meal, or the meal from 318 million bushels of soybeans.
To support U.S. soy meal's largest customer, the soy checkoff partners with organizations like the U.S. Meat Export Federation and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council to market U.S. meat and poultry abroad. A recent checkoff and U.S. Meat Export Federation effort helped increase consumption of pork back ribs in Japan from zero to 4.5 million pounds over the last three years.
The U.S. meat and poultry export figures for 2012 include:
- Pork exports nearly reached 2.3 million metric tons, valued at over $6.3 billion.
- Broiler meat exports, excluding chicken paws, reached 3.3 million metric tons, valued at nearly $4.2 billion.
- Beef exports reached 1.1 million metric tons, valued at $5.5 billion.
- Turkey exports reached 361,597 metric tons, valued at $678 million.
- Chicken paw exports reached 363,974 metric tons, valued at $450.1 million.
- Egg exports, table eggs and processed egg products in shell equivalents reached 274.1 million dozen, valued at $263.7 million.
The 69 farmer-directors of the United Soybean Board oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for the United Soybean Board and the soy checkoff.