Meat & Livestock News

2023 Witnesses Unprecedented Surge in US Pork Exports Amidst Mixed Fortunes in Meat Trade


  • A landmark achievement for US pork exports, reaching a historic $8.16 billion in 2023, underscored by a notable 6% year-on-year growth.
  • Beef exports, in contrast, faced hurdles, witnessing a downturn from the previous year’s peak, with a 12% volume reduction and a 15% dip in value.
  • Lamb trade experienced a setback, marking a 16% decrease in volume and a 15% fall in value, albeit with a slight uptick in December figures.

In a year of fluctuating fortunes within the meat export sector, the United States set a new benchmark in pork exports, achieving an all-time high in 2023. Detailed figures released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and analysed by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reveal that pork exports not only flourished in established markets but also saw expansion in newer territories, culminating in a record-setting value of $8.16 billion.

This represents a robust 6% increase from the preceding year, with Mexico leading the charge as a pivotal market alongside significant strides in diverse global markets.

Pork Export Dynamics:

  • The per-head export value for slaughtered pork reached an unparalleled nearly $64, with variety meats contributing significantly to this figure.
  • The overall export volume ascended to 2.91 million tonnes, marking an 8% rise from 2022 and positioning as the third-highest record.
  • December 2023 emerged as a particularly strong month, with pork exports up nearly 10% year-over-year, achieving the highest volume since May 2021.

Mexico’s role was instrumental, with US pork exports there surging to a record 1.1 million tonnes, a 14% increase from 2022, and achieving a record export value of $2.35 billion, up 15%.

Contrasting Fortunes in Beef and Lamb:

The narrative was less favourable for beef exports, which did not replicate the previous year’s record-breaking performance. Despite this, December offered a glimmer of hope with a significant uptick in exports, marking the largest volume since August and a 10% increase in value year-over-year. The annual overview, however, reflected a 12% decline in volume and a 15% decrease in value for beef exports.

Lamb exports similarly faced challenges throughout the year, with a 16% reduction in volume and value. Nevertheless, December witnessed a 13% rise in exports and a 16% increase in value, suggesting potential signs of recovery.

Industry Perspectives:

Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO remarked on the exceptional global demand for US pork, particularly highlighting the expansion in Mexico. Despite the mixed outcomes across the meat sectors, the resilience and strategic market expansions underscore the dynamic nature of the US meat export industry.

This detailed analysis of the 2023 meat export landscape reveals a year of significant achievements and challenges, with pork exports leading the way in setting new records and showcasing the adaptability and strength of the US meat trade on the global stage.