U.S. beef exports again topped $1 billion in July and posted the fifth-largest volume on record, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork exports remained below last year’s pace but continued to gain strength in Colombia and the Caribbean and stayed above year-ago for Mexico, the leading destination for U.S. pork.
July beef exports totaled 126,567 metric tons (mt), up 3% year-over-year. Export value increased 7% to $1.006 billion, topping the $1 billon mark for the sixth time this year. For the first seven months of 2022, beef exports increased 6% from a year ago to 870,471 mt, valued at $7.2 billion (up 29%).
“Global demand for U.S. beef continues to be amazingly resilient, especially at the retail level,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Exports have also benefited from a partial rebound in the foodservice sector but this recovery is far from complete. Many markets are still gradually easing COVID restrictions, so we definitely see opportunities for further growth as restaurant traffic returns. Headwinds remain formidable, however, including further devaluation of key trading partner currencies.”
U.S. pork exports reached 208,095 mt in July, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $625 million (down 5%). Through July, exports were 17% below last year at just under 1.5 million mt, valued at $4.24 billion (down 15%).
“July pork exports were below last year but the good news is that the per-unit price of U.S. pork is trending higher in the international marketplace, even while our major competitors’ prices remain below year-ago levels,” Halstrom said. “Export value per head in July reached $67.10, nearly even with year-ago and the highest since last July. We are also encouraged by the recent trendlines for pork variety meat exports, especially to China and Mexico.”
Japan leads broad-based growth in July beef exports
Beef exports to leading volume market Japan reached 30,726 in July, up 8% from a year ago, valued at $231.6 million (up 3%). This pushed January-July exports 1% above last year’s pace at 186,239 mt, while value climbed 17% to $1.49 billion. For beef variety meat – mainly tongues and skirts – exports to Japan were steady with last year at 33,581 mt but value jumped an impressive 38% to nearly $340 million.
South Korea remains the top value market for U.S. beef, though July exports were modestly below last year at 22,710 mt (down 3%), valued at $199.3 million (down 4%). Through July, exports to Korea were still 5% ahead of last year’s record pace at 173,203 mt, valued at $1.72 billion (up 33%).
Despite still-stringent COVID restrictions and periodic lockdowns in some major cities, China’s demand for U.S. beef continues to post steady growth. July exports to China/Hong Kong totaled 26,884 mt, up 25% from a year ago, while export value to the region was the highest for any destination at $245.4 million (up 34%).
Other January-July results for U.S. beef exports include:
- Despite taking a step back in July, beef exports to Taiwan remain on a record pace in 2022. July exports were lower than a year ago in both volume (4,614 mt, down 21%) and value ($51.4 million, down 17%). But through July, shipments to Taiwan still climbed 19% to 41,857 mt, valued at $495.6 million (up 45%).
- In the ASEAN region, strong growth in the Philippines and Vietnam pushed January-July exports 8% higher than a year ago at 37,255 mt, while value soared 62% to $276.1 million. Export value to the Philippines more than doubled to $96.5 million (up 104%), while Vietnam climbed 69% to $49.3 million. Despite lower volumes, export value to Indonesia increased 29% to $83.1 million.
- With foodservice demand rebounding strongly in the Caribbean, exports climbed 32% to 16,580 mt, while value soared 68% to $141.1 million. Exports to the Dominican Republic, the region’s leading destination for U.S. beef, jumped 50% to 5,351 mt and more than doubled in value ($56.3 million, up 108%). Exports also increased to Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward-Windward Islands.
- Led by rapid growth in Guatemala, Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica, exports to Central America are on a record pace in 2022. Through July, exports to the region increased 13% to 12,526 mt, while value climbed 33% to $88.2 million.
- Beef exports to Colombia also reached new heights through July, increasing 52% to 5,906 mt. With demand climbing in both the retail and foodservice sectors, export value soared 73% to $29 million.
- July beef export value equated to $472.75 per head of fed slaughter, up 11% from a year ago. The January-July average was $476.38 per head, up 29%. Exports accounted for 16.4% of total July beef production and 14.1% for muscle cuts only, each up about one percentage point from last year. The January-July ratios were 15.5% and 13.3%, up from 12.6% and 14.8%, respectively, a year ago.
Pork exports to Mexico continue to outpace year-ago, and at higher prices
July pork exports to leading market Mexico reached 70,245 mt, up 6% from a year ago, while export value jumped 16% to $169.6 million. Mexico again took about 9% of U.S. pork muscle cut production in July, continuing the trend seen since August 2021. January-July exports to Mexico were 17% above last year’s record pace at 539,540 mt, while value increased 12% to $1.05 billion. Mexico recently suspended duties on all imported red meat cuts, a move that primarily impacted European pork because U.S. and Canadian pork already enter at zero duty. But to date, Mexico’s imports of EU pork remain limited and are mainly in the variety meat category, still subject to import duties.
Pork exports to Colombia continued to surge in July, climbing 24% to 9,078 mt, while export value increased 23% to $22.3 million. Despite a slow first quarter, January-July exports to Colombia pulled 12% ahead of last year in both volume (60,891 mt) and value ($141.8 million).
July pork exports to the Caribbean increased 15% from a year ago to 6,327 mt, while value also climbed 15% to $19 million. Led by strong demand in the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the Leeward-Windward Islands, January-July exports increased 37% from a year ago to 58,075 mt, valued at $156.7 million (up 40%).
Other January-July results for U.S. pork exports include:
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- July pork exports to South Korea reached 14,662 mt, up 7% from a year ago, while value was steady at $50.2 million. Through July, exports to Korea increased 7% in value to $375.5 million despite a small decline in volume (107,119 mt, down 2%).
- While still below year-ago levels, July pork exports to China/Hong Kong were the largest since September at 44,943 mt, valued at $117.2 million (the highest since July 2021). The strength is in variety meats, which reached 29,539 mt in July, the most since July 2021, valued at $71.2 million. Through July, pork and pork variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong totaled 267,727 mt, down 49% from a year ago, valued at $712.2 million (down 42%). China’s live hog price averaged $1.50/lb. in July and has continued to hold in that range, up 35% from June and from a year ago. U.S. pork and pork variety meats are still subject to China’s 25% retaliatory duties imposed in response to Section 301 tariffs.