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Pork exports see broad-based growth, beef exports trend lower

International demand continues to be a positive for the entire pork supply chain.

3 Min Read
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April exports of U.S. pork achieved gains in a wide range of markets, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports, on the other hand, were below the very large totals posted a year ago, but export value per head of fed slaughter was the highest in eight months.

Propelled by another month of widespread growth, April pork exports totaled 243,789 metric tons (mt), up 15% from a year ago, while value increased 10% to $660.1 million. April exports to South Korea were the largest in nearly four years, while exports also trended higher to leading market Mexico and to the ASEAN, the Dominican Republic, Australia, Taiwan and China/Hong Kong. Export value per head slaughtered ($67.56) was the highest since May 2021.

For January through April, pork exports climbed 14% to 960,480 mt, valued at $2.62 billion (up 13%).

“International demand continues to be a positive for the entire pork supply chain,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “While Mexico remains a star performer for U.S. pork, it’s really encouraging to see growth in many markets. Latin American demand has remained strong while the momentum for U.S. pork into the Asia Pacific region has also been increasing. This is critical for maximizing carcass value and generating revenue for an industry that is facing difficult economic conditions.”

Meanwhile, April beef exports were 10% below last year at 111,416 mt, while value fell 18% to $859.5 million. However, the share of production exported was steady with last year and export value per head of fed slaughter ($441.70) was the highest since July.

Beef exports continued to gain momentum in Mexico in April, while exports also increased to South Korea, Europe and Africa. Exports to China/Hong Kong were relatively strong in April but shipments to Japan were down significantly.

Through the first four months of 2023, beef exports were down 8% in volume (437,910 mt) and were 21% lower in value ($3.21 billion) compared to last year’s record pace.

“With U.S. beef supplies tightening, it’s difficult to keep pace with the remarkable export totals posted in the first half of 2022, but exports continue to account for a similar share of production as last year’s record,” Halstrom said. “The rebound in travel and tourism – which is now gaining momentum in Asia – and related foodservice opportunities continue to support beef demand. In some countries we have also seen a recent easing of the inflationary pressure on consumers’ discretionary income.”

Halstrom added that for both beef and pork exports, it is imperative that West Coast port terminal operators reach a contract agreement with longshoremen.

“While there has been no formal strike or lockout, sporadic work stoppages on the West Coast are a major concern for exporters and their international customers,” Halstrom said. “This is especially true for companies shipping chilled beef or pork to Asia. For that business, reliability and timeliness are paramount.”

A detailed summary of the January-April export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb, including market-specific highlights, is available from the USMEF website.


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