May produced a record-breaking month for beef and pork export values.
Beef exports also set a new mark for volume, while pork export volume was the third largest on record, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
“The outstanding May performance is especially gratifying when you consider where red meat exports stood a year ago,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The industry faced unprecedented, COVID-related obstacles at all levels of the supply chain, and a very uncertain international business climate.
“These challenges are still not behind us, but international demand has been very resilient and the U.S. industry has shown a tremendous commitment to serving its global customers.”
Halstrom says U.S. labor availability issues are placing limitations on the meat export industry, while exporters continue to face significant obstacles when shipping product overseas. Continuing issues with COVID-19 translate into food service restrictions where dine-in service is either suspended or subject to capacity limits and shorter hours, and tourism has not yet returned in many countries.
“USMEF remains optimistic that international demand will remain strong in the second half of 2021, but the road ahead is not an easy one,” Halstrom says. “The U.S. industry must continue to be innovative and aggressive in defending existing market share, while also expanding our customer base by responding to COVID-driven changes in the marketplace and shifts in consumer trends and preferences.”
May beef exports topped last year’s reduced totals, with volume up 68%. Export values increased by 88% to $904.3 million.
For January through May, beef exports reached 587,838 mt, up 15% from a year ago, while value increased by 22% to $3.84 billion.
May pork exports totaled 283,617 mt, up 16% from a year ago and the third largest on record. Export value exceeded $800 million for the first time in May, climbing 31% to $813.2 million, led by the largest exports of the year to Mexico and strong growth in Central America, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and the Philippines.
For January through May, pork exports were slightly below last year’s record pace at 1.34 million mt, but export value increased 3% to $3.63 billion.