U.S. beef exports set another new value record in July, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). July export value climbed 45% from a year ago to $939.1 million, while volume was the third largest of the post-BSE era at 122,743 metric tons (mt), up 14% year-over-year.
July beef exports to the mainstay Asian markets of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were relatively steady with last year, but at significantly higher value. Export volume growth was driven by record-large shipments to China and a strong rebound in Western Hemisphere markets compared to year-ago totals. For January through July, U.S. beef exports increased 18% from a year ago to 822,830 mt, with value up 30% to $5.58 billion. Compared to the pace established in 2018, the record year for U.S. beef exports, shipments were up 6% in volume and 17% in value.
Pork exports in July were steady with last year at 221,809 mt, but export value jumped 20% to $657.3 million. Pork variety meat exports were especially strong at 49,092 mt, up 54% from the low total posted a year ago and 16% above July 2019. Variety meat export value was the second highest on record at $116.7 million, up 69% from a year ago and 39% above 2019.
July pork exports were driven mainly by growth in Mexico, Central America, Colombia and the Philippines, while chilled pork exports continued to strengthen to Japan and South Korea. Total exports to China declined from a year ago, but pork variety meat shipments to China were the second largest on record.
For January through July, pork exports were 1% above last year’s record pace at just under 1.8 million mt, while value increased 8% to $4.98 billion.
“Beef exports were really outstanding in July, especially with COVID-related challenges still impacting global foodservice as well as persistent obstacles in shipping and logistics,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO “Retail demand continues to be tremendous, as evidenced by the new beef value record. On the pork side, the U.S. industry remained focused on market diversity even when China’s import volumes were absolutely off the charts. That philosophy is paying strong dividends now, with exports maintaining a record pace even as muscle cut exports to China trend significantly lower.”
Halstrom was especially pleased to see pork variety meat exports bolster the July results, climbing back from a labor-related slump in mid-2020.
“While the tight labor situation is still very much a challenge for exporters, the variety meat capture rate has certainly improved and it is great to see exports exceed pre-COVID levels,” he said. “This is especially important because China’s demand for pork variety meat remains strong and it is critical that the U.S. industry capitalizes on this opportunity.”
Lower demand in leading market Mexico pushed July exports of U.S. lamb below last year, but January-July exports were still 13% above last year’s pace at 7,982 mt, with value up 10% to $10.8 million.