USA, Washington. US pork exports posted the third largest month on record in February while US beef exports also recorded double-digit gains from a year ago, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. Through February, exports of both pork and beef are on a record pace and account for a growing share of record-large US production.
February pork exports reached 273,056 t, up 46% from a year ago, valued at $726.6 mill. (up 59%), trailing only the volume and value totals from December 2019 and January 2020. For the first two months of the year, pork exports exceeded last year’s pace by 41% in volume (546,659 t) and 54% in value ($1.47 bn.).
US beef exports also achieved outstanding growth in February, increasing 18% from a year ago to 112,021 t and climbing 17% in value ($681 mill.). These results pushed January-February volume 10% above last year’s pace at 219,395 t and 11% higher in value ($1.35 bn.).
Effect of the pandemic
With COVID-19 dominating all news headlines, including those related to global trade, USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said the February export results confirmed that global demand for high-quality protein remains strong and resilient.
“By February, COVID-19 had emerged as a major health concern in several key Asian markets and was certainly impacting consumer and business activity, so it is great to see US pork and beef exports achieve such strong growth,” Halstrom said. “Obviously these are uncertain economic times and the road ahead remains very challenging, but these results are really a great testament to our international customer base. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, importers, retailers and restaurateurs are finding creative ways to meet consumer needs, and with record production the US industry is well-positioned as a supplier. While we are in an unusual business climate that requires a lot of flexibility and innovation, there are excellent opportunities for red meat exports to continue to build momentum.”
Highlights for US pork exports include:
- Exports to Canada continued to build on last year’s strong performance, increasing 18% in volume (37,364 t) and 14% in value ($128.8 mill.) from a year ago.
- While the volume shipped to Oceania eased in February, value continued to increase, pushing the two-month totals 9% higher in volume to 21,831 t and 35% above last year’s record value pace at $72.6 mill.
- Strong growth in Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica pushed exports to Central America 4% higher in volume (14,790 t) and 19% higher in value ($38.6 mill.) from a year ago.
- Exports to Vietnam climbed 241% in volume to 3,007 t and 134% in value ($6.7 mill.). This included a strong year-over-year increase in variety meat exports, consisting primarily of pork feet.
Highlights for US beef exports include:
- Exports to Mexico were 5% above last year’s pace at 41,862 t, valued at $217 mill. (up 10%). Mexico is the largest volume market for U.S. beef variety meat, and January-February variety meat exports climbed 16% from a year ago in both volume (18,182 t) and value ($49.3 mill.).
- Exports to Taiwan, which is an especially strong destination for chilled beef cuts, were 20% above last year’s record pace in volume (10,051 t) and 17% higher in value ($86.2 mill.).
- Exports to China/Hong Kong were down 16% to 12,501 t, with value falling 8% to $111.2 mill. But for China specifically, exports were up 12% to 1,408 t, valued at $10.4 mill. (up 4%). With access to China now expanded (as of late March), USMEF expects momentum to build for US beef in the world’s largest import market.
- Strong growth in Peru and Colombia pushed exports to South America 26% above a year ago to 4,367 t, valued at $20.6 mill. (up 11%).
- Guatemala and Panama fueled export growth to Central America, where volume climbed 22% to 2,868 t, valued at $16.4 mill. (up 25%).
- Strong variety meat shipments to South Africa, Gabon, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique pushed exports to Africa well ahead of last year’s pace. Variety meat exports climbed 40% to 4,186 t, valued at $3.2 mill. (up 37%), with livers and kidneys being the main items exported to the region. Total exports to Africa were up 37% in volume (4,226 t) and 18% in value ($3.7 mill.).