U.S. beef exports

A sales person at the Jusco Supermarket in Tokyo arranges U.S. beef products. Beef exports are up significantly this year.

U.S. beef and pork exports are on a record pace through September, according to the latest USDA trade data.

Beef exports continued to soar in September at 123,628 metric tons, up 20% from a year earlier and the fourth-largest volume since beef exports resumed after a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy resulted in the shutdown of many overseas markets in 2003. The value of those exports jumped 59% year over year to $954.1 million — the second-highest month on record, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Beef exports January through September increased 18% in volume and 36% in value from a year earlier. Compared to the record year of 2018, January through September beef exports were 7% higher in volume and up 24% in value.

Japan, South Korea and China and 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. Beef exports to most Western Hemisphere markets are also trending significantly higher than a year ago, USMEF reported.

On the pork side, exports totaled 219,687 metric tons in September, down 1% from a year earlier, but value was 8% higher at $608.3 million.

For January through September, exports were up 1% in volume from last year’s record pace and value climbed 9%.

September pork exports to Mexico were the third-largest on record at nearly 80,000 metric tons, pushing January through September exports to Mexico to a record pace. Pork exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic are also reaching new heights, and exports to Colombia have rebounded significantly from a year ago, according to USMEF.

While September exports of U.S. lamb were up only slightly from a year ago at 948 metric tons, value climbed 39% to $1.6 million. January through September lamb exports were up 5% in volume and 11% in value.

Lamb shipments increased to leading market Mexico and trended higher to the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Guatemala and Honduras.

“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,” Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO, said in a press release.

A rebound in pork and beef variety meat exports — which declined last year amid pandemic-related production obstacles — has been a strong source of momentum in 2021, reflecting exceptional global demand for high-value protein, Halstrom said.

“The increase in the variety meat capture rate — and the resulting increase in exports — is especially encouraging because the labor and transportation challenges certainly have not gone away,” he said.

January through September exports of pork variety meat were 17% higher in volume and 26% higher in value than a year earlier. Beef variety meat exports during that period were 10% higher in volume and 19% higher in value.

“Variety meat exports are a great complement to our strong domestic and international demand for muscle cuts, helping maximize carcass value,” he said.

Through September beef exports accounted for 15.1% of total U.S. production with a value of $389.08 per head of U.S. slaughter. Pork exports accounted for 30.4% of total U.S. production with an export value of $65.06 per head of U.S. slaughter.

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