MN Exported Record $5.1B of Goods in Q4

Meat exports from Minnesota companies jumped 84 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, while exports of oil and iron ore products also grew significantly.

Minnesota companies exported $5.1 billion worth of products in the last three months of 2011, representing a fourth quarter record, according to data released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The figure also represents a 1.4 percent increase from the total value of goods exported during the fourth quarter of 2010. It boosted the value of Minnesota's exports for the full year to $20.3 billion, compared to $18.9 billion for 2010.

Of the state's three major exporting industries-manufacturing, agriculture, and mining-manufactured goods dominated exports during the quarter, accounting for $4.7 billion of total export sales and up 3 percent from the same period a year ago. The fourth quarter marks the eighth straight quarter of year-over-year increases in that sector.

“Strong markets in Asia and North America are driving the growth of Minnesota exports,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement. “The Minnesota Trade Office is seeing plenty of opportunities right now for companies that want to export to those and other regions of the world.”

Canada was the state's largest export market, buying nearly $1.5 billion worth of Minnesota products during the quarter-up 0.9 percent from a year earlier. Other major export customers included China ($644 million, up 10 percent), Mexico ($306 million, up 22.7 percent), Japan ($303 million, down 5.4 percent), South Korea ($184 million, up 25.7 percent), and Germany ($162 million, down 20.5 percent).

Machinery topped all export categories during the quarter, accounting for $988 million of the state's sales to other countries but representing a 4.6 percent drop from the same period a year earlier. Other top export products were optical and medical instruments ($705 million, down 3.3 percent), electrical machinery ($704 million, up 3.6 percent), vehicles ($445 million, down 9.3 percent), and plastic ($259 million, up 2.1 percent).

Meanwhile, meat exports, which totaled $127 million during the quarter, saw a steep increase-83.8 percent-from a year earlier. DEED said this was because of a surge in demand for fresh and frozen pork in China; Minnesota's meat sales to the country climbed from $2 million during the fourth quarter of 2010 to $34 million during the same period last year. Meats sales were also strong in South Korea ($23 million, up 34 percent) and Mexico ($17 million, up 52 percent).

Exports of mineral fuel and oil products grew by nearly 53 percent from a year earlier, with Canada buying most of these products. Exports of iron ore products climbed nearly 52 percent; China bought $37 million worth of these products compared to none a year earlier.

Vehicles posted the biggest drop, primarily because of declines in truck sales (down 54 percent) and public transportation vehicles (down 86 percent), according to DEED. However, the total value of snowmobiles exported climbed 52 percent from a year earlier, largely because of increased sales to Canada and Finland.