Meat & Livestock News

USMEF Report: A Mixed Picture for Meat Exports with Pork Holding Ground

Fresh red meat and butchery workers working in the background.

The latest dispatch from the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) presents a nuanced landscape for American meat exports. In the pork sector, the figures for September narrate a story of resilience, with exports slightly down by 1% to 221,140 tonnes compared to the same period last year. The financial return on these exports also saw a modest dip of 4%, totalling $643.7 million.

Despite these figures, the Mexican market’s appetite for American pork burgeoned, evidenced by an 18% climb in value to $207.6 million, a near-record for monthly trade. This uptick was mirrored by gains in Central America and Australia, alongside encouraging trends in the Caribbean, Taiwan, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

When the lens is widened to the year’s first three quarters, pork exports have demonstrated robustness, with a 9% volume increase to 2.13 million tonnes and a 7% value increase to just under $6 billion, with Mexico’s unprecedented demand playing a pivotal role.

Dan Halstrom, at the helm of USMEF, remains sanguine about pork’s global prospects, citing the diverse markets that have offset softer demand from China and Japan.

In stark contrast, the beef export narrative for September tells a different tale, with a 15% volume decrease to 98,757 tonnes, marking it as the year’s least productive month, and a 12% value decrease to $795.5 million.

Despite this, there were pockets of growth in Mexico, Canada, Central America, Colombia, and Africa.

The cumulative data for beef over the nine months of 2023 reflects a 13% volume decrease to 980,100 tonnes and an 18% value decrease to $7.49 billion, a backtrack from the preceding year’s record highs.

Halstrom acknowledges the headwinds faced by US beef in Asian markets, attributing the slowdown to economic pressures and consumer reticence.

Yet, he notes the recent economic stimuli in these regions and spotlights the Western Hemisphere’s burgeoning demand, with Mexico as a standout.

The lamb export sector in September also faced a downturn, with a 9% volume decrease to 245 tonnes and an 11% value decrease to $1.17 million.

However, the Caribbean region’s growing fondness for US lamb, with increased exports to Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and the Leeward-Windward Islands, offered a silver lining, despite declines in Mexico and Canada.