Meat & Livestock News

U.S. Pork Exports Soar; Beef Market Hits a Bump

Farmer cattleman taking care of pigs.

U.S. pork exports are on a roll, especially this past November. We’re talking a big thumbs-up from buyers in Mexico and those countries in Central and South America.

The folks at the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) are sharing some pretty impressive numbers. November saw pork exports jump by 5% compared to last year, hitting 258,601 metric tons.

And here’s something to chew on: the export value climbed by 2% to a whopping $737.4 million. That’s the best we’ve seen since May 2021 and ranks as the seventh highest ever. From January to November, we’ve shipped out 2.64 million metric tons of pork, raking in $7.39 billion – that’s 8% more in volume and 5% more in value.

Dan Halstrom, the big boss at USMEF, is pretty upbeat about this. He’s seeing a lot of enthusiasm for U.S. pork, especially in Mexico and across the Western Hemisphere. Halstrom’s got his eyes set on both established and new markets for the coming year.

Let’s dive into some specifics. Mexico’s pork imports in November? A solid $221.3 million, up 5%. Central America, with Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador leading the charge, saw a 35% spike. And get this, Colombia set a new record with pork exports valued at $34.3 million – a staggering 59% jump. This has helped South America hit its highest import levels in two years.

But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Pork exports to China have dipped by 4% to 466,511 metric tons. Why? Looks like China’s got more homegrown pork, and beefier inventories, and the consumers there aren’t biting as much.

Switching gears to U.S. beef, well, it’s a bit of a different story. In November, beef exports took a 14% nosedive to 99,029 metric tons, and the value dropped by 7% to $786.2 million. Comparing the first 11 months to last year’s record, beef exports are trailing by 13% in volume and 17% in value, clocking in at 1.18 million metric tons and $9.11 billion.

Despite these hurdles, Halstrom isn’t losing hope. He’s pointing out some bright spots like a rebound in Mexico and strong demand in several Western Hemisphere markets. But, economic conditions in key Asian markets and tough competition from Australian beef are making things tricky, a stark contrast to the blockbuster year U.S. beef exports had in 2022.