March beef and pork exports set records for value, while beef muscle cuts also set an export record.
Beef exports totaled 124,808 metric tons in March, up 8% from a year ago and the second largest in the post-BSE era (since late December 2003), according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Beef export values broke the $800 million mark for the first time at $801.9 million, up 14% year-over-year. Beef muscle cut exports set new monthly records for both volume (98,986 mt, up 13% from a year ago) and value ($718.3 million, up 17%). Over the first quarter, beef exports pulled even with last year’s pace at 333,348 mt, valued at $2.12 billion. For beef muscle cuts, first quarter exports increased 4% to 262,914 mt, valued at $1.9 billion (up 5%).
The USMEF says record beef exports were shipped to China, Honduras and the Philippines in March.
Pork exports for March came in at 294,724 mt, up 1% from last year’s strong total, and set a new value record at $794.9 million (up 4%). Pork muscle cuts also set new monthly records for both volume (247,660 mt, up 2% from a year ago) and value $689.2 million (up 4%).
For the first quarter, pork exports were 7% below last year’s pace in both volume (782,620 mt) and value ($2.07 billion). Pork muscle cuts followed a similar trend at 659,420 mt (down 7%), valued at $1.79 billion (down 8%).
March pork exports were led by strong performances in Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and Central America, including new records in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Exports were also record-large to the Dominican Republic for the second consecutive month.
“It’s very gratifying to see such an outstanding breakout month for U.S. beef and pork exports,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Exports were off to a respectable start in 2021, considering the logistical and labor challenges the industry is facing and ongoing restrictions on the food service sector in many key markets.
“While these obstacles are not totally behind us, the March results show the situation is improving and the export totals better reflect the strong level of global demand for U.S. red meat.”
March exports of U.S. lamb were up 54% from a year ago to 1,089 mt, valued at $1.5 million (up 22%). For the first quarter, export volume increased 64% from a year ago to 3,268 mt, but value was down 4% at $4.3 million.