US beef and pork exports hit record levels in March
Beef export value broke the $800 million mark for the first time, as Q1 of 2021 ended on a strong note for the US market.
Data released by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) showed that March beef and pork exports each posted the highest monthly value on record.
Totalling 124,808 metric tons (mt), beef exports were up by 8% compared to a year ago – the second largest of the post-BSE era. The $801.9 million export value represented a 14% increase year on year.
Beef exports to South Korea increased by 7% from a year ago. For the first quarter, exports were 8% ahead of last year’s pace in both volume and value, making Korea this year’s leading value destination for US beef.
March beef exports to China were far above last year’s totals and reached a new monthly record of 14,552 mt, valued at $109.9 million. This pushed first quarter exports more than 1,500% above last year’s pace in both volume and value, and exports increased about 25% from Q4 2020.
March pork exports set a new record at 294,724 mt, up 1% from last year and the value rose by 4% to $794.9 million. Pork exports to Japan, Mexico, Central America and the Philippines all increased compared to March last year.
China/Hong Kong remains the largest destination for US pork, despite first quarter exports falling 20% from a year ago. March export value to the region was $202.5 million, down 14% from last year but the highest in 10 months as exports of bone-in ham and shoulder cuts to China set a new monthly record.
“Exports were off to a respectable start in 2021, considering the logistical and labour challenges the industry is facing and ongoing restrictions on the foodservice sector in many key markets,” said USMEF president and CEO, Dan Halstrom.
“While these obstacles are not totally behind us, the March results show the situation is improving and the export totals better reflect the strong level of global demand for U.S. red meat.”