According to the latest figures from the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef volume exports totalled 96,488 metric tons (mt), up 17% from a year ago, valued at $515.5 million (m) – up 18% and the highest ever for the month of January. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $256.62, up 7% from a year ago.
Pork exports were up 21% from a year ago in volume terms (202,667 mt) and jumped 26% in value terms to $508.6m. Pork export value averaged $50.23 per head slaughtered, up 21% from a year ago.
Lamb didn’t fare quite as well. Exports continue to be held back by weak variety meat volumes, despite January muscle cut exports increasing 42% from a year ago in volume (194mt) and 29% in value (to just under $1m) however this was offset by lower variety meat exports.
“The red meat industry entered 2017 with an optimistic outlook, confident that we can continue our recent strong momentum in the international markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The January results certainly validate that feeling, but we understand that significant challenges still lie ahead. With record-large pork production and beef production also trending higher it’s more important than ever that we capitalize on our abundance of protein, and move more product out of the country by growing U.S. market share in established markets and breaking new ground in emerging destinations.”
Japan and South Korea were the areas of major success for US beef exports. Exports to Japan were up 34% in both volume (22,487 mt) and value ($125.2m). Exports to Korea achieved similar growth, with volume up 35% to 15,194 mt and value increasing 36 percent to $91.6m.
Other highlights included a growth in beef exports to neighbouring countries. Exports to Mexico were 26% above last year’s pace in volume (19,151 mt) and up 11% in value ($76.2m). Exports to Canada were up 8% in volume and 11% in value (9,885 mt; $60.8m).
Pork export volumes to Mexico grew again January volume, climbing to 72,406 mt – the third-largest monthly total on record. Export value was up even more dramatically, increasing 50% to $128.7m, as Mexico’s strong buying helped sustain higher U.S. ham prices.
Pork exports to China/Hong Kong were up 17% from a year ago in volume (38,012 mt) and 19% in value ($76.2m).