February 8, 2020


US pork exports reach record levels in 2019; beef exports top $8 billion



US pork exports posted new volume and value records in 2019, reaching 2.67 million tonnes, up 10% above the previous year and value reaching $6.95 billion, 9% higher than 2018, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).


They broke previous records for both volume (2.45 million tonnes in 2017) and value ($6.65 billion in 2014).


In December alone, pork exports soared to 282,145 tonnes, up 34% year-on-year and surpassing the previous high (set in November 2019) by 9%. Export value was $760 million, up a remarkable 44% from the previous year and breaking the previous record (also from November 2019) by 7%.


Also in December, the US' top pork buyer, China/Hong Kong, imported 110,876 tonnes of US pork—more than quadruple the year-before volume—while value was nearly six times higher at $274.9 million.


For 2019, pork exports to China/Hong Kong were up 89% to 665,665 tonnes, valued at $1.45 billion (up 71%). China/Hong Kong's pork imports from all suppliers in 2019 reached a record 3.45 million tonnes, up 40% year-on-year, and accelerated into December after China's hog prices peaked in November.


"Despite retaliatory duties and the other barriers US pork faces in China, exports to the China/Hong Kong region closed 2019 with tremendous momentum", said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO.


"We look forward to continued success in 2020, especially if US-China trade relations continue to trend in a positive direction. The coronavirus situation is certainly concerning and disruptive, but it hasn't dampened our enthusiasm for the potential this market holds for US red meat", he added.


Exports of US beef in December, meanwhile, were below the previous year's record levels, totaling 111,315 tonnes (down 1% year-on-year), valued at $682 million (down 3%). 2019 exports totaled 1.32 million tonnes, 2.5% below the previous year's record volume. After increasing by more than $1 billion in 2018, beef export value eased by 3% to $8.1 billion.


USMEF said that the decline in US beef exports from the record levels of 2018 was partially attributable to lower shipments to Japan, which were down 6% in both volume (311,146 tonnes) and value ($1.95 billion).