The latest trade data from USDA and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) show continued strength in international demand for U.S. agricultural products, with beef and pork exports particularly encouraging during May.

Overall U.S. agricultural exports during May were down 3 percent from April’s total, but were up 10 percent since October 2013.  The value of U.S. agricultural exports during May totaled $11.8 billion, while imports were valued at $9.8 billion, leaving a positive trade balance of $2 billion.

Beef exports in May, at 103,000 metric tons, were up 5 percent in volume from a year ago, while the value of May beef exports, at $589 million, was up 15 percent from a year ago. For the first five months of 2014, export volume was up 9 percent and value increased 17 percent to $2.64 billion according to USMEF.

Hong Kong has been one of the bright spots for U.S. beef exports, and we should see that trend continue, as the U.S. gained full access to the Hong Kong market in mid-June, allowing export of previously restricted products such as ground beef and processed meats. But even before that development, May beef exports to Hong Kong increased by more than 80 percent from a year ago on a volume basis and more than doubled in value, at $92.5 million.

For January through May of this year, beef exports to Mexico have increased 34 percent in volume and 49 percent in value compared with the same period last year. Exports to Korea during the same period were up 32 percent in volume and 41 percent in value while beef exports to Japan so far this year have been steady with those during the same period in 2013, with a 1 percent decline in volume and a 1 percent increase in value.

According to USMEF, beef export value per head of fed slaughter set another new record in May at $279.39, up $47.72 from a year ago. The ratio of U.S. production exported was 11 percent for muscle cuts and 14 percent for muscle cuts and variety meat combined – up from 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from a year ago.

Pork exports also have remained strong, with significant increases in value. May pork exports totaled 188,030 metric tons up 4 percent from a year ago, while the value of pork exports, at just under $600 million during May, was up 19 percent from a year ago. For January through May, pork export volume was 9 percent ahead of last year’s pace, while export value was up 15 percent to $2.84 billion.

The value of U.S. dairy exports during May declined by 2 percent from April, but has shown a 35 percent year-over-year increase through the October through May time period.

Detailed trade data for beef and pork products are available from USMEF.