August 15, 2023


US pork exports in June up 12%, beef exports down 12%, according to USDA data




US pork exports concluded a strong first half with another strong performance in June,  according to data released by the United States Department of Agriculture and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation.


While well below the record pace established in 2022, June beef exports topped US$900 million in value, pushing first-half export value to nearly US$5 billion.


June pork exports totaled 245,964 tonnes, up 12% from a year ago, while export value climbed 6% to US$691.4 million. Through the first half of 2023, exports were 14% above last year's pace at 1.47 million tonnes, valued at US$4.05 billion (up 12%).


"Mexico is certainly the 2023 pacesetter for US pork exports but what's really exciting is that the industry is achieving such broad-based growth internationally," said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and chief executive officer. "Exports are making impressive gains in the Western Hemisphere and reclaiming market share in many Asia-Pacific markets, and US pork is well-positioned to continue gaining momentum in the second half."


Beef exports totaled 115,107 tonnes in June, down 12% from a year ago and slightly below the May volume. Export value was US$909.5 million, down 13% year-over-year but the highest since October and 4% above the value posted in May. First-half beef exports were 10% below last year's record pace at 669,176 tonnes. Export value was just under US$5 billion – down 19% from a year ago but still 8% above the first half of 2021.


"It was a challenging first half for beef exports, especially when compared to the blistering pace established a year ago," Halstrom said. "But we are encouraged to see that exports are still accounting for a consistently high percentage of total beef production, and variety meat exports have held up very well considering the decline in US slaughter. These metrics continue to illustrate the important contribution of exports in maximising beef carcass value."


June pork exports to leading market Mexico climbed 19% from a year ago to 85,853 tonnes, while value increased 8% to US$179.4 million. These results kept first-half exports on a record-shattering pace at 532,934 tonnes, up 14% from a year ago, while value increased 21% to US$1.07 billion. Pork variety meat exports to Mexico have strengthened even more dramatically in 2023. Through June, variety meat shipments increased 49% to 77,818 tonnes, valued at US$136.6 million (up 43%).


Pork exports to Australia continued to build momentum in June, increasing 79% from a year ago to 7,513 tonnes, valued at US$25.6 million (up 71%). First-half exports to Australia increased 71% year-over-year in volume (33,179 tonnes) and 64% in value (US$114.9 million). While most of this volume is raw material for further processing, value-added processed US pork products are also popular in Australia's retail and foodservice sectors. 


Taiwan's demand for US pork has rebounded dramatically this year, with June exports increasing 915% from a year ago to 3,767 tonnes – the largest in 14 years. June export value was US$12.3 million, up more than 1,000%. First-half pork exports to Taiwan jumped 531% from last year's low totals to reach 10,280 tonnes, while value increased 598% to $33.5 million.


Pork exports to Japan edged above year-ago levels in June, increasing 1% in volume (32,420 tonnes) and 3% in value (US$131.7 million). First-half export volume was slightly below last year (187,270 tonnes, down 1%), while export value fell 6% to US$749.4 million. Japan is importing more frozen pork from the US and less chilled pork and ground seasoned pork due in part to the weak yen and persistent shipping and logistical challenges.


While pork exports to South Korea took a step back in June, first-half shipments still increased 10% from a year ago to 101,969 tonnes, while value was up 2% to US$332.8 million. US pork, which enters South Korea at zero duty under the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, achieved this growth despite imports from Canada, Mexico and Brazil benefiting from South Korea's recent implementation of duty-free import quotas. The country also recently reinstated access for pork originating from regions of Germany that are free of African swine fever (ASF), including one German slaughter plant, but exports have not yet materialised. Similar to other Asian markets, South Korea's imports of European pork are down significantly in 2023, reflecting higher EU prices.


Despite China's persistently low first-half hog prices and large supplies of domestic pork, US pork exports to China/Hong Kong – a majority of which is pork variety meat – have increased in 2023. First-half exports to the region totaled 275,358 tonnes, up 24% from a year ago, valued at US$716.2 million (up 20%). Pork variety meat exports to China are on a record pace through June, totaling 173,647 tonnes, up 30% year-over-year, valued at US$461 million (up 24%). China's hog prices have increased sharply since mid-July, but any impact from this trend is not reflected in first-half export results.


Led by China/Hong Kong and Mexico, global exports of US pork variety meat reached 297,013 tonnes in the first half, up 32% from a year ago. Export value increased 22% to US$703.9 million. First-half export growth was also fueled by larger shipments to the Philippines, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Taiwan.  


Although pork exports to the Dominican Republic trended lower in May and June, shipments to the DR still increased impressively in the first half. January-June volume was up 29% from a year ago to 55,934 tonnes, while value increased 38% to US$149.4 million. This nearly matches the full-year value total achieved in 2021, when exports to the DR were valued at US$150.8 million.  


Robust growth in the Philippines and Malaysia pushed first-half pork exports to the ASEAN region to 35,855 tonnes, up 55% from a year ago, while value climbed 35% to US$86.2 million. ASF has significantly impacted domestic pork production in both countries and the US industry has capitalised on tighter supplies and higher prices for European pork. The Philippines has emerged as a major destination for pork variety meat exports, with first-half shipments up 67% to 13,612 tonnes, valued at US$19 million (up 39%).


Widespread growth in Central America pushed first-half pork exports up 3% to 61,690 tonnes, while value climbed 10% to US$175.9 million. Shipments increased to Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, offsetting a decline to Panama.


Pork exports to South America trended lower in the first half as shipments to Colombia slowed (42,960 tonnes, down 17% from a year ago; US$109.3 million, down 9%). But exports to Chile rebounded strongly, up 61% to 7,327 tonnes, valued at US$25.29 million (up 21%). Exports to Peru increased as well, increasing 6% to 1,229 tonnes, valued at US$3.2 million (up 11%).  Total exports to the region were down 10% to 52,442 tonnes, valued at US$142.6 million (down 3%).


Pork export value equated to US$66.31 per head slaughtered in June, up 8% from a year ago. The first-half average was US$63.87 per head, up 10%. Exports accounted for 31% of total June pork production, up four full percentage points from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, exports accounted for 26.7% of production – up three full percentage points. The first-half ratios were 30% of total production and 25.7% for muscle cuts, up from 26.6% and 23.5%, respectively.


US beef's presence in Mexico continued to expand in June, with shipments climbing 20% from a year ago to 18,005 tonnes, while value soared 33% to US$97.9 million. First-half exports to Mexico were 14% above last year's pace at 100,171 tonnes, while value increased 19% to US$557.5 million. Mexico is the largest volume destination for US beef variety meat, with first-half exports increasing 16% to 52,659 tonnes. Variety meat value climbed 21% to US$148.6 million.


While June exports of beef variety meat were below last year's large volume (25,683 tonnes, down 3%), export value increased 1% to US$104.5 million – the highest since October. In addition to the increase to Mexico, variety meat exports more than doubled year-over-year to South Africa (1,733 tonnes, up 126%), South Korea (1,684 tonnes, up 119%), and Indonesia (656 tonnes, up 112%) and increased sharply to Gabon, Angola, Central America and the Dominican Republic. First-half exports of beef variety meat were 5% below last year at 143,294 tonnes, while value fell 12% to US$552.7 million.


For the second consecutive month, beef exports to Taiwan performed exceptionally well in June. Exports climbed 27% year-over-year to 7,258 tonnes – the largest since April 2022 and the third highest on record. Export value was also the highest since April 2022 at US$67.7 million, up 3% from a year ago. First-half exports to Taiwan were 9% below last year at 33,792 tonnes, valued at US$327.6 million (down 26%), but the recent rebound in demand is very encouraging.


Beef exports to South Africa continued to strengthen in June. Shipments consisted entirely of variety meat, climbing 126% above last year to 1,733 tonnes. June export value was US$1.7 million (up 7%). First-half exports to South Africa were 134% above last year at 10,413 tonnes, with value up 88% to US$11.1 million.


Beef exports to Canada also followed a strong May performance with a solid June total of 10,165 tonnes, up 13% from a year ago. June export value increased 20% to US$90.3 million. First-half exports to Canada were steady with last year at 51,964 tonnes, valued at US$417.6 million (down 1%).


Exports to leading market South Korea totaled 21,410 tonnes in June, down 14% from a year ago, while export value fell 19% to US$186.9 million. First-half exports to South Korea were 11% below last year's record pace at 133,775 tonnes, valued at US$1.09 billion (down 28%).


First-half beef exports to China/Hong Kong totaled 119,810 tonnes, down 12% from a year ago, while value declined 17% to US$1.04 billion. But exports to Hong Kong have strengthened in 2023, partially bolstered by a long-awaited uptick in tourism and business travel. First-half exports to Hong Kong increased 28% to 19,526 tonnes, valued at US$201.3 million (up 10%).  


June beef exports to Japan remained significantly below last year but improved from the previous month. June shipments totaled 20,685 tonnes, down 25%, while export value was US$166.4 million – down 20% from a year ago but notably higher (up 21%) than in May. First-half exports to Japan were down 17% year-over-year to 129,044 tonnes, valued at US$924 million (down 26%).


Despite taking a step back in June, first-half beef exports to the European Union, including product for use by cruise lines, increased 8% from a year ago in both volume (10,890 tonnes) and value (US$143.2 million).


The Dominican Republic took larger beef volumes in June (up 3% to 740 tonnes), bringing the first half total to 4,894 tonnes, up 6%. Export value climbed 10% to UD$53 million, reflecting strong demand in the tourism sector.


Beef export value equated to US$407.12 per head of fed slaughter in June, down 9% from a year ago. The first-half average was US$394.39, down 17%. Exports accounted for 14.3% of total June beef production, down from 15.5% a year ago, while the ratio of muscle cuts exported fell only slightly to 12%. First-half ratios were 14.4% of total production and 12.2% for muscle cuts, each down about one percentage point from the first half of 2022.  


- National Hog Farmer

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