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Pork exports continue on a record pace after a 10% increase in September.

Export numbers reached 222,475 metric tons in September, with overall export value increasing by 6%, according to USDA data.

September exports to Canada set a new record, while year-over-year numbers to Japan also increased, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Shipments to China/Hong Kong remained higher, while numbers were also up for other customers of U.S. pork, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Chile.

Over the first three quarters of 2020, pork exports were 16% ahead of last year’s record pace in both volume and value. Muscle cut exports jumped by 22% in volume and 19% in value.

“Exporting countries are watching the hog production recovery in China very closely, because we know its demand for imported pork is moderating,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “While USMEF is pleased to see U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong maintaining a strong pace, it is vitally important that our export destinations remain diversified. The U.S. industry continues to pursue this goal aggressively, both in the Asia Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere.”

Beef exports remained fairly steady in major Asian markets compared to a year ago, although numbers were lower overall. September beef exports were down 6% from a year ago, with value down 9%.

This follows a record-setting August. Exports to South Korea and Taiwan remain strong, and exports to China set a new record. The USMEF says obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic cut into key markets in Mexico and Central America.

“Although restaurant traffic and food service activity are not back to normal in most Asian markets, USMEF is very encouraged by the recovery in Asia, and this was especially evident in the strong August and September exports of U.S. beef to Korea, Taiwan and China,” Halstrom said.

Over the period from January through September, beef exports trailed last year’s pace by 8% in volume and 9% in value.

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.