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Pork exports break records, beef numbers down
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Pork exports break records, beef numbers down

Split Screen Cattle Hogs and meat products

Pork exports shattered records in 2020.

U.S. exports were up 11% over the record set in 2019. Export values also increased by 11% in 2020 with a value of $7.71 billion, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Beef exports were down 5% in both volume and value in 2020. However, the year concluded with very strong momentum, with fourth quarter volume up 4.5% from a year ago. Record beef exports were shipped to China in 2020, according to the USMEF.

“Obviously the surge in demand from China, especially in the first half of 2020, was a driving force behind the record performance for U.S. pork exports,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Maelstrom. “But China was not the only success story in 2020, as exports achieved growth in a broad range of markets.”

Pork exports set new records in China/Hong Kong, Central America, Vietnam and Chile, with strong fourth quarter growth in Japan and Mexico. A new beef export volume record was set for Taiwan.

The impact of COVID-19 on the food service industry is still being felt, although it appears to be lessening.

“Consumers across the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by seeking high-quality products they could enjoy at home, and U.S. beef and pork definitely met this need,” Halstrom said. “We expect these retail and home-delivery demand trends to continue even as sit-down restaurant dining recovers, creating robust opportunities for U.S. red meat export growth.”

December pork exports were down 8% from a very large year-ago volume, with value down 10%. Pork muscle cut exports were also down 8% in December, according to the USMEF.

December beef exports were up 8% from December 2019 and the largest in nearly 10 years. Export value was $744 million, up 9% from a year ago and the second highest total on record, according to the USMEF.

Exports of beef muscle cuts were down 2% in 2020, but were up 11% in December, pointing to strong momentum in the beef export market.

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

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