Photo by Lea Kimley.

Beef exports holding strong

U.S. beef exports again topped $1 billion in July and posted the fifth-largest volume on record, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports remained below last year’s pace but continued to gain strength in Colombia and the Caribbean and stayed above year-ago for Mexico, the leading destination for U.S. pork. 

Japan leads broad-based growth in July beef exports

July beef exports totaled 126,567 metric tons (mt), up 3% year-over-year. Export value increased 7% to $1.006 billion, topping the $1 billon mark for the sixth time this year. Japan was the pacesetter for July exports, but volumes also increased year-over-year to China/Hong Kong, the ASEAN region, Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia. July exports eased for South Korea and Taiwan, though both markets remain on a record pace in 2022.

For the first seven months of the year, beef exports increased 6% from a year ago to 870,471 mt, valued at $7.2 billion (up 29%). Export value per head of fed slaughter is on a record pace at more than $475.00.

“Global demand for U.S. beef continues to be amazingly resilient, especially at the retail level,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO. “Exports have also benefited from a partial rebound in the foodservice sector but this recovery is far from complete. Many markets are still gradually easing COVID restrictions, so we definitely see opportunities for further growth as restaurant traffic returns. Headwinds remain formidable, however, including further devaluation of key trading partner currencies.” 

Pork exports to Mexico continue to outpace year-ago, and at higher prices

U.S. pork exports reached 208,095 mt in July, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $625 million (down 5%). For January through July, exports were 17% below last year at just under 1.5 million mt, valued at $4.24 billion (down 15%). 

Exports to Mexico, the top market for U.S. pork, remain well above last year’s record pace, while shipments to Colombia, the Caribbean and South Korea continued to strengthen in July. Exports to China/Hong Kong were lower than a year ago in July but posted the largest volume since September and the highest value in 12 months.

“July pork exports were below last year but the good news is that the per-unit price of U.S. pork is trending higher in the international marketplace, even while our major competitors’ prices remain below year-ago levels,” Halstrom said. “Export value per head in July reached $67.10, nearly even with year-ago and the highest since last July. We are also encouraged by the recent trendlines for pork variety meat exports, especially to China and Mexico.”

Lamb muscle cut exports trend higher

July exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts reached 161 mt, up from just 49 mt last year. Export value totaled $949,000, up 58% from a year ago. Through July, muscle cut exports increased 94% to 1,282 mt, valued at $7.7 million (up 82%). Led by the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands Antilles, exports to the Caribbean more than doubled from a year ago to 645 mt (up 110%) and increased 99% in value to $4.7 million. Exports also increased to Mexico, the Philippines and Panama.

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