U.S. red meat exports continued to build momentum in November, highlighted by a new monthly volume record for pork exports. Both pork and beef exports exceeded year-ago levels by more than 20% in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
November pork exports totaled 225,757 metric tons (mt), up 24% year-over-year and breaking the previous record (218,132 mt) set in October 2012. Export value was $586.8 million, up 30% from a year ago and the highest since May 2014. For January through November, pork export volume was up 7% from a year ago to 2.09 million mt, while export value increased 5% to $5.38 billion.
Even with U.S. pork production reaching record levels, exports are accounting for a larger share. November export volume equated to 28% of total production and 23% for muscle cuts only – substantial increases over the November 2015 ratios of 24% and 21%, respectively. For January through November, exports accounted for 25.5% of total production and 21.4% for muscle cuts. November export value averaged $55.09 per head slaughtered, up 19% year-over-year.
Mexico a Powerful Pacesetter
Demand for U.S. pork gained further momentum in Mexico in November, where a fifth consecutive record year for export volume is now within reach. November exports totaled 73,984 mt, up 21% year-over-year and pushing January-November volume (649,992 mt) nearly even with the record pace of 2015. Export value was up 32% in November ($139.2 million) and January-November export value increased 4% to $1.19 billion.
Japan Market Stronger, Too
Though still lower year-over-year, pork exports to leading value market Japan continued to strengthen in November, increasing 24% from a year ago in volume (37,317 mt) and 35% in value ($153.4 million, the highest since April 2015). Through November, export volume to Japan was down 5% to 357,808 mt. Last year represents a record year for chilled pork exports to Japan, which were up 10% through November to 201,828 mt.
Significant Challenges, But Headed in the Right Direction
“With recent increases in both pork and beef production, the U.S. industry faces a significant challenge in terms of moving these larger supplies,” Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, said. “But with aggressive and well-targeted international marketing efforts, this also presents an outstanding opportunity to grow our market share in established export destinations and cultivate new opportunities in emerging markets. U.S. exports are achieving success on both fronts, and USMEF is committed to keeping this strong momentum going in the New Year.”