Through the first two months of the year U.S. red meat exports posted gains in volume and value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

"U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports continued an upward trend, increasing 3 percent in volume to 215,787 metric tons and 14 percent in value to $500 million compared to last year," notes Dallas Hockman, with the National Pork Producers Council.

U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports gained ground, increasing 17 percent in volume to 102,177 MT and 15 percent in value to $316 million.

U.S. pork exports to Asian markets like Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong showed great progress while exports to Mexico, a traditionally strong market, declined slightly, points out Hockman. Japan currently is the No. 1 market for U.S. pork as exports increased 25 percent in volume to 62,404 MT and 25 percent in value to $190.2 million.

Pork plus pork variety meat exports set another record year, with 2006 being the 15th consecutive year of record export volumes (1,262,499 MT valued at over $2.86 billion), says Hockman. "Both export volume and value increased by 9 percent, which is extremely impressive considering exports to our top market, Japan, were off slightly from 2005 (down 5 percent). Exports to all other major markets excluding China and Romania (due to Romania's early adoption of EU standards) continued their strong growth throughout 2006," he adds.

Pork exports (muscle meats), which made up 88 percent of the total value of pork plus pork variety meat exports, increased by 13 percent in volume at 1,021,172 MT and 10 percent in value totaling more than $2.5 billion.

Source: National Pork Producers Council