September Pork Exports Continue Upward Trend; Pace Cools for Beef

U.S. pork exports topped year-ago totals for the second consecutive month in September, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). September beef exports were below last year for the first time in 2022, but exports remain on a record pace through the first three quarters of the year.

Growth in Japan, Korea and Caribbean bolsters September pork exports

Pork exports reached 222,202 metric tons (mt) in September, up 1% from a year ago. Export value increased 9% to $664.8 million – the highest since June 2021. Through September, pork exports were 13% below last year at 1.94 million mt, valued at $5.57 billion (down 11%).

September pork exports were once again led by Mexico, though shipments slipped below year-ago volume for the first time since early 2021. Exports rebounded to Japan, strengthened to China/Hong Kong and South Korea, and continued on a record pace to the Caribbean and Colombia.

“It’s very encouraging that U.S. pork exports continue to gain momentum, especially on the value side,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Once again we see the importance of market diversification, as the strong September performance was achieved even as the volume shipped to Mexico eased to some degree.”

While headwinds impact beef exports, annual records still within reach

September beef exports totaled 115,487 mt, valued at $890.3 million, down 7% from a year ago in both volume and value. For the first nine months of 2022, beef exports were still 4% above last year at 1.12 million mt. Export value reached $9.12 billion, up 20% and already achieving the second highest total for any calendar year, trailing only the 2021 record ($10.58 billion).

Despite China’s zero-COVID policies that result in travel restrictions and periodic lockdowns in metropolitan areas, September beef exports to China/Hong Kong were still above last year. Shipments also increased year-over-year to the ASEAN region and Caribbean, but declined to Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

While beef exports remain well-positioned to reach new heights in 2022, the September results reflected significant headwinds that have been building for some time.

“Demand for U.S. beef has been extremely resilient, but inflationary pressure on consumers and weakened currencies in key markets have definitely created a more challenging environment,” Halstrom said. “Exports also continue to face logistical challenges, lockdowns in China and mounting inventories in some destinations. Still, it’s hard to view September sales of nearly $900 million as a disappointment, when this would have been an all-time record just 18 months ago. That really drives home what a remarkable year this has been for U.S. beef exports.”

Lamb muscle cut exports rebound in September

Following a down month, September exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts rebounded to 269 mt, up 175% from last year’s low volume. Export value totaled $1.31 million, up 67%. Through September, lamb muscle cut exports increased 76% to 1,676 mt, valued at $9.9 million (up 68%), led by a near-doubling of exports to the Caribbean.

A detailed summary of the January-September export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb, including market-specific highlights, is available from the USMEF website.

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