ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — 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, the American Soybean Association (ASA) said on March 21.

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% of the domestic supply of U.S. soy meal.

“Exporting meat and poultry is a big issue for U.S. soybean farmers,” said John Butler, a farmer-leader from Dyersburg, Tennessee, U.S. “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 tonnes annually. That’s the meal from 601 million bushels of soybeans. And hogs account for 6.8 million tonnes 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 (USMEF) and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council to market U.S. meat and poultry abroad. A recent checkoff and USMEF 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 tonnes, valued at over $6.3 billion.
•           Broiler meat exports, excluding chicken paws, reached 3.3 million tonnes, valued at nearly $4.2 billion.
•           Beef exports reached 1.1 million tonnes, valued at $5.5 billion.
•           Turkey exports reached 361,597 tonnes, valued at $678 million.
•           Chicken paw exports reached 363,974 tonnes, 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.