Both U.S. beef and U.S. pork exports are on a record pace through September, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports posted one of the best months on record in September, with value climbing nearly 60% above last year. Pork export volume was slightly below last September, but value still increased 8%.
Beef exports continued to soar in September at 123,628 metric tons (mt), up 20% from a year ago and the fourth largest volume of the post-BSE era. Export value jumped 59% to $954.1 million – the second highest month on record, trailing only August 2021. For the first three quarters of 2021, beef exports increased 18% from a year ago to 1.08 million mt, valued at $7.58 billion – up more than $2 billion (36%) from the same period last year. Compared to the record year of 2018, January-September exports were 7% higher in volume and up 24% in value.
Pork exports totaled 219,687 mt in September, down 1% from a year ago, but value was 8% higher at $608.3 million. For January through September, exports were 1% above last year’s record pace at 2.24 million mt, while value climbed 9% to $6.23 billion.
“Facing significant logistical headwinds and higher costs, these outstanding results are really a testament to the loyalty and strong demand from our international customers and to the innovation and determination of the U.S. industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom.
Beef exports on pace to top $2 billion in three Asian markets
Beef exports to leading market Japan posted a strong performance in September at just under 30,000 mt, up 24% from a year ago, valued at $215.8 million (up 73%). This pushed January-September results 5% above last year at 246,380 mt, valued at $1.72 billion (up 17%).
Japan, South Korea and China/Hong Kong are all on track to be $2 billion destinations for U.S. beef in 2021, with strong growth in chilled beef exports to Japan and Korea. Through September, chilled beef exports to Japan neared 120,000 mt, up 17%, with value up 25% to $1 billion. Chilled exports to Korea were up 25% in volume (65,600 mt) and 50% in value ($744 million).
Total September beef exports to Korea were 23,363 mt, up 9% from a year ago, while value soared 67% to $207.5 million. Through the third quarter, exports to Korea were up 12% in volume (213,326 mt) and 30% in value ($1.71 billion). COVID-related restrictions on restaurants and other foodservice outlets were recently eased in both Japan and Korea, which should provide further momentum for U.S. exports.
China has been a major source of growth for U.S. beef exports in 2021, with exports through September climbing 672% from a year ago to 138,041 mt, while export value was up 761% to $1.12 billion. Combined exports to China and Hong Kong were up 131% through September at 176,694 mt, valued at $1.49 billion – already shattering the previous value record of $1.15 billion set in 2014.
Pork export growth to Western Hemisphere markets offsets softer demand in China
Strong demand from Mexico provided another powerful boost for U.S. pork exports in September, as shipments climbed 45% from a year ago to 79,678 mt, the third highest volume on record, valued at $141.6 million (up 59%). Through September, exports to Mexico were up 27% to 623,228 mt, while value climbed an impressive 57% to $1.24 billion. Exports have also moved ahead of the record pace of 2017, when full-year shipments to Mexico topped 800,000 mt and exceeded $1.5 billion in value.
Pork exports to Central America continued to shine in September, climbing 63% from a year ago to 11,110 mt, while value nearly doubled to $30.9 million (up 93%). Led by outstanding growth in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, January-September exports to the region increased 48% in volume (98,547 mt) and 63% in value ($263.1 million).
Following a down year in 2020, pork exports to Colombia have staged an impressive comeback. September exports totaled 7,934 mt, up 68% from a year ago, while value more than doubled to $20.5 million (up 103%). Through the first three quarters of the year, shipments to Colombia nearly matched the pre-COVID levels of 2019 in volume (70,905 mt, up 55% from a year ago) and actually moved higher in value at $169.5 million (up 70% from a year ago and 7% above 2019).
(courtesy U.S. Meat Export Federation)