Paced by strong performances from leading markets, both U.S. beef and pork exports continued their upward trend in July, with beef sales setting new highs for the year, while lamb exports slowed slightly for the month but remain up for the year, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Double-digit increases to the top three markets (Japan, Mexico and Canada) helped U.S. beef exports jump 9 percent in volume in July to 118,913 metric tons valued at $622.8 million, a 21 percent increase over last year. For the year, beef exports are up a fraction in volume (661,473 metric tons) and 9 percent in value to $3.45 billion.

Strong performances by Mexico, the China/Hong Kong region and Central/South America boosted pork exports by 8.5 percent in volume in July to 178,794 metric tons valued at $502.6 million, a 7.5 increase over 2012. Through July, pork exports were down 5 percent in volume and value, at 1.23 million metric tons and $3.44 billion. Excluding Russia, which has been closed to U.S. pork and beef since February, exports were down just 1 percent from last year’s record pace.

Lamb exports dipped a modest 3.2 percent in July on 15.7 percent lower volumes, but remain up by double digits for the year.

Beef Growth in Asia
“On the beef side, we are seeing the results of further rationalization of import practices in a number of key Asian markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “Expanded access in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan has helped each of these key markets move closer to their full potential, and we are focusing our resources there to maximize opportunities to serve the growing demand in the region.”

As Seng noted, for the first seven months of 2013, beef exports are up dramatically to these three key markets:

  • Japan: up 57 percent in volume and 43 percent in value (142,875 metric tons valued at $855.8 million)
  • Hong Kong: up 102 percent in volume and 128 percent in value (60,159 metric tons valued at $368.4 million)
  • Taiwan: up 158 percent in volume and 222 percent in value (17,434 metric tons valued at $139.6 million)

Other top-performing markets for beef exports include:

  • Mexico: rebounding from a slow start earlier in the year (down 9 percent in volume and value for the year to 110,689 metric tons valued at $470.9 million), July exports rose 16 percent in volume and 26 percent in value (21,309 metric tons valued at $91 million)
  • Central/South America: up 103 percent in volume (6,636 metric tons) and 41 percent in value ($17.1 million) in July; up 27 percent in volume and 16 percent in value for the year (25,963 metric tons valued at $88 million)

U.S. beef exports in July accounted for 12 percent of muscle cut and 15 percent of beef and variety meat production versus 11 and 14 percent respectively last year. The export value per head of fed slaughter set a new record of $272.90 – up $37.72 from last July. That despite the continued closure of the Russian market, which amounted to 42,319 metric tons valued at $179 million through July last year.

Complete exports results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available online.

Editor’s notes:

  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise noted
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds