Editor’s note: Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat unless otherwise indicated. - One metric ton = 2,204.6 pounds.

July was another very strong month for U.S. pork and beef exports, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Both are on pace to set new export value records in 2011 and to eclipse the $5 billion mark for the first time ever.

July pork exports totaled 169,547 metric tons valued at $480.06 million – an increase of 16 percent in volume and 24 percent in value. This pushed the 2011 total to 1.25 million metric tons valued at $3.3 billion – increases of 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively, over last year. July exports equated to 28.7 percent of production with a value of $59.35 per head, compared to 23.8 percent and $45.95 in July 2010. For the year, pork exports equated to 27.3 percent of production with a per head value of $53.63.

Beef exports set a new value record in July of $513.1 million, on a volume of 120,424 metric tons. For the first seven months of the year, exports totaled 741,275 metric tons valued at nearly $3.1 billion - an increase of 26 percent in volume and 40 percent in value over last year’s pace. July exports equated to 16.3 percent of total U.S. production with a value of $236.88 per head of fed slaughter. This compared to 12 percent and $159.34 per head last July. For the year, beef exports equated to 14.2 percent of production with a value of $198.67 per head of fed slaughter.

“July was another outstanding month for red meat exports, as we continued to expand the presence of U.S. beef and pork throughout the world,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “This is a testament to the commitment U.S. producers and exporters have made to the international markets. Producers are dealing with high operating costs, adverse weather and many other significant challenges, and the export markets are clearly the best thing they have going in terms of profitability.”

Japan, Korea critical to steady growth in pork exports

With an impressive July performance of $157.6 million, U.S. pork exports to Japan shot past the $1 billion mark for the seventh consecutive year. Coming off a record value year of more than $1.6 billion in 2010, exports to Japan were up 11 percent in volume through July at 287,466 metric tons and up 14 percent in value at just over $1.1 billion.

Exports to South Korea continued to surge as a wider range of U.S. pork cuts continue to find success in Korea’s retail and foodservice sectors. Exports were up 144 percent in volume through July at 136,359 metric tons and nearly tripled in value to $343.4 million.

Other highlights include:

  • While year-over-year exports to Mexico are down 4 percent in volume and steady in value, it remains a critical market for U.S. pork. Mexico is the leading volume destination for U.S. pork at 300,234 metric tons so far this year and ranks second to Japan in value at $561 million. Mexico’s retaliatory duties on bone-in pork shoulders, hams and pork skins were cut in half earlier this summer with a compromise agreement on the NAFTA trucking dispute, but remain a hindrance to U.S. exports. USMEF is hopeful that these duties will be removed entirely next month.
  • Exports to China through the first seven months of 2011, which were hindered in 2010 due to lingering restrictions related to A-H1N1 influenza, totaled 152,986 metric tons valued at $244.6 million. This is higher in volume and only slightly lower in value than the pace established in 2008, when pork exports to China reached an all-time high.
  • While widely known as a successful pork exporter, Chile also has a rapidly growing appetite for U.S. pork. Exports to Chile in 2011 have climbed 186 percent in volume (9,103 metric tons) and 138 percent in value ($21.1 million) over last year. This helped exports to the Central and South America region grow by 19 percent in volume (38,758 metric tons) and 32 percent in value ($98.2 million) over last year.

Beef exports set a new value record in July of $513.1 million, on a volume of 120,424 metric tons. For the first seven months of the year, exports totaled 741,275 metric tons valued at nearly $3.1 billion - an increase of 26 percent in volume and 40 percent in value over last year’s pace. July exports equated to 16.3 percent of total U.S. production with a value of $236.88 per head of fed slaughter.

Source: USMEF