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U.S. beef, pork exports up in January

Challenges ahead with record-large pork production.

March 9, 2017

4 Min Read

 U.S. beef and pork exports were up year-over-year in January, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). 


  • Beef exports totaled 96,488 metric tons (mt), up 17% from a year ago, valued at $515.5 million – up 18% and the highest ever for the month of January.

  • Exports accounted for 12.2% of total beef production and 9.5% for muscle cuts only – with both ratios being fairly steady with January 2016.

  • Export value per head of fed slaughter was $256.62, up 7% from a year ago.


  • January pork exports were up 21% from a year ago in volume (202,667 mt) and jumped 26% in value to $508.6 million.

  • Exports accounted for 26.2% of total pork production and 21.7% for muscle cuts – up significantly from the respective January 2016 shares of 22.3% and 18.8%.

  • Pork export value averaged $50.23 per head slaughtered, up 21% from a year ago.

Challenges ahead
“The red meat industry entered 2017 with an optimistic outlook, confident that we can continue our recent strong momentum in the international markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The January results certainly validate that feeling, but we understand that significant challenges still lie ahead. With record-large pork production and beef production also trending higher it’s more important than ever that we capitalize on our abundance of protein, and move more product out of the country by growing U.S. market share in established markets and breaking new ground in emerging destinations.”

Beef exports still red-hot in key Asian markets

  • Beef exports were higher year-over-year to most major destinations, but Japan and South Korea continued to be the pacesetters for the start of 2017. Exports to Japan were up 34% in both volume (22,487 mt) and value ($125.2 million), with muscle cut exports climbing 41%.

  • Exports to Korea achieved similar growth, with volume up 35% to 15,194 mt and value increasing 36% to $91.6 million – maintaining the pace that carried exports to Korea over the $1 billion mark for the first time last year.

January highlights for U.S. beef

  • Exports to Mexico were 26% above last year’s pace in volume (19,151 mt) and up 11% in value ($76.2 million). Exports to Canada also rebounded, up 8% in volume and 11% in value (9,885 mt; $60.8 million).

  • Following a record year for export value, exports to Taiwan climbed 24% in both volume (3,591 mt) and value ($29.9 million).

  • Led by growth in the Philippines and renewed momentum for U.S. beef in Indonesia, exports to the ASEAN region were up 56% in volume to 2,556 mt and 45% in value to $14.1 million.

Mexico continues to shine for U.S. pork

  • Coming off the fifth consecutive record year for pork export volume to Mexico, the Mexican market shows no signs of letting up. January volume climbed nearly one-third higher than a year ago to 72,406 mt – the third-largest monthly total on record. Export value was up even more dramatically, increasing 50% to $128.7 million, as Mexico’s strong buying helped sustain higher U.S. ham prices.

  • Pork exports to China/Hong Kong were up 17% from a year ago in volume (38,012 mt) and 19% in value ($76.2 million). U.S. exports to China/Hong Kong peaked last May at 58,000 mt and regained momentum in November and December, averaging 47,000 mt per month, with strong buying ahead of Chinese New Year. China’s hog prices have softened following the holiday, and are down about 5% year-over-year.

  • Japan took 31,597 mt of U.S. pork in January, up 6% year-over-year, valued at $125.7 million (up 11%). Following a record year in 2016, U.S. chilled pork exports to Japan continued to grow in January, up 12% from a year ago to 17,619 mt.

January highlights for U.S. pork

  • Exports to Korea continued their recent upward trend, climbing 32% in volume (16,073 mt) and 48% in value ($45.1 million) year-over-year. Korea’s domestic pork prices have exceeded year-ago levels since late December due to a number of factors, including strong demand (especially for pork belly), relatively high domestic beef prices and most recently concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, which impacted domestic beef production.

  • Exports to Central and South America continue to reflect growing demand for U.S. pork, with both volume (14,240 mt) and value ($33.1 million) up nearly 60% year-over-year. Muscle cut exports to Colombia were the second-largest on record in January – trailing only November 2016 – at 6,155 mt. Combined muscle cut and variety meat exports were also higher for Honduras, Guatemala, Panama and Peru.

  • Australia – a key destination for boneless hams and other raw materials for further processing – maintained its recent strong momentum with volume increasing 26% to 6,498 mt and value up 34% to $17.9 million.

  • Exports to the Dominican Republic were record-large at 2,746 mt valued at $6.2 million, up 24% and 37%, respectively, from a year ago.

Slow start for lamb exports, but muscle cuts trend higher
U.S. lamb exports continue to be held back by weak variety meat volumes. January muscle cut exports increased 42% from a year ago in volume (194 mt) and 29% in value (to just under $1 million), but this was offset by lower variety meat exports. Combined export volume was 573 mt (down 41%) valued at $1.4 million (down 8%). Exports were lower to most markets, but increased to Jordan and the Netherlands Antilles.

Complete January export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

Source: USMEF

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