October was another strong month for U.S. red meat exports as beef export value continued to soar, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). October pork exports were below last year’s large total but year-to-date shipments remained slightly above the record pace of 2020.
“USMEF has always prioritized market diversification, and this is more critical than ever now that the red meat industry faces unprecedented transportation challenges and rising input costs,” said Dan Halstrom, president and CEO. “Exports will likely reach about $18 billion in 2021, which is a remarkable achievement. While global demand is tremendous and we are cautiously optimistic about further growth in 2022, supply chain pressures are not easy to overcome and are a growing concern for exporters and their international customers.”
Broad-based growth puts beef exports on $10 billion pace
Beef exports reached 115,709 metric tons (mt) in October, up 7.5% from a year ago, while export value climbed 48% to $956.9 million — the second-highest total on record, behind August 2021. Through the first 10 months of the year, beef exports totaled 1.19 million mt, up 17% from a year ago. Export value increased 38% to $8.53 billion, surpassing the 2018 record ($8.33 billion) with two months to spare.
U.S. beef exports will top $2 billion this year in each of three key Asian markets — South Korea, Japan and China/Hong Kong. Exports have already surpassed previous annual records in China/Hong Kong and Central America and October exports to Colombia were record-large.
Record shipments to Mexico and Colombia bolster October pork exports
Pork exports totaled 226,206 mt in October, down 7% from a year ago, while export value slipped 3.5% to $618.8 million. For January through October, pork exports were up slightly from a year ago in volume (2.47 million mt) and increased 8% in value ($6.84 billion). Exports to Mexico continued to strengthen in October as shipments reached a new monthly high of 83,929 mt, up 38% from a year ago. January-October exports to Mexico are ahead of the record pace established in 2017, when full-year shipments exceeded 800,000 mt and topped $1.5 billion in value.
Pork exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic continued to shine in October and have already set annual records, while exports to Colombia have rebounded to pre-COVID levels. Although China’s demand for pork muscle cuts has softened significantly, it remains a critical, value-adding destination for U.S. pork variety meat.
October lamb export value highest in nearly two years
Fueled by growth in leading market Mexico, as well as in the Caribbean and Singapore, October exports of U.S. lamb totaled 1,075 mt (up 56% from a year ago) and reached $1.95 million in value – also up 56% and the highest since January 2020. Through October, lamb exports increased 8% to 11,020 mt valued at $15.9 million (up 15%).