March Pork Exports Steady with Year-Ago; Beef Export Value Highest in Nine Months

March exports of U.S. pork were steady with last year’s volume and edged higher in value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports were below last March’s large volume, but export value was the highest since June 2023.

Korea shines in March as pork exports close excellent first quarter

Pork exports totaled 260,430 metric tons (mt) in March, up 0.1% from a year ago, valued at $740.8 million – up 2% year-over-year and the seventh highest on record. March shipments to South Korea were among the largest on record, while exports also increased substantially to Central America, Colombia, Oceania, Vietnam and Malaysia. Pork export value per head slaughtered averaged $70.85, the highest in nearly three years and the fifth highest on record.

“Another strong month on the pork side, and one that illustrates the importance of export market diversification,” noted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Shipments to Mexico cooled a bit, reflecting the earlier timing for Easter, and yet the global total remained very robust through increases to Korea, Colombia, Central America and Australia. When export value exceeds $70 per head slaughtered, that’s welcome news for pork producers and the entire supply chain.”

Through the first quarter, pork exports increased 6% to 762,784 mt, while export value climbed 7% to $2.11 billion. Although shipments to leading market Mexico trended lower in March, first-quarter exports to Mexico were still ahead of last year’s record pace.

March bright spots for U.S. beef include Caribbean, Middle East, Mexico

March beef exports totaled 108,218 mt, down 10% from the large volume posted a year ago but still the highest of 2024. Export value was $889.9 million, down slightly from a year ago (-0.3%) but the highest in nine months. March export value equated to $454.62 per head of fed slaughter, the highest since mid-2022. March highlights included the third largest volume on record to the Caribbean, including an all-time high to the Dominican Republic, and shipments to the Middle East strengthened significantly. While March volumes to South Korea and Mexico were below last year, export value still trended higher.

“Beef demand in the Caribbean was outstanding in March, and we continued to see a strong rebound in the Middle East as well as some positive signs in Korea and Japan, where the foodservice recovery is making progress,” Halstrom said. “It’s a challenging situation in terms of supply availability, but the value U.S. beef commands internationally is very encouraging – as evidenced by March export value climbing to more than $450 per head.”

January-March beef exports totaled 311,865 mt, down 4% from the first quarter of 2023, but export value increased 6% to $2.48 billion. Markets achieving first quarter value growth included South Korea, Mexico, Hong Kong, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, the Philippines and Singapore.

First quarter lamb exports lower in volume, but value trends higher

March exports of U.S. lamb were 35% below last year at 246 mt, while export value fell 5% to $1.5 million. But March shipments to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada all trended significantly higher than a year ago. First quarter lamb exports fell 5% in volume to 819 mt, but value increased 19% to $4.7 million. Value growth was led by the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, but exports also trended higher to Taiwan and the ASEAN.

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