Red meat export values set a record for June, and shipments over the first half of 2021 established new records for beef and pork exports, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
“USMEF had expected a continued strong performance in June for both beef and pork exports, despite significant headwinds,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “2021 has presented many formidable challenges for the U.S. industry, including a very tight labor situation, logistical obstacles that slowed product movement and food service restrictions in many key markets.
“So the fact that first-half exports reached record levels speaks to the loyalty of our international customer base, strong consumer demand for high-quality, nutritious U.S. red meat and the U.S. industry’s ability to adapt to a challenging and rapidly changing business climate. We have also seen a welcome rebound in beef and pork variety meat volumes, which had been down last year.”
June beef exports totaled 112,249 metric tons (mt), up 42% from a year ago when exports were still hampered by a COVID-related slowdown in production. Export value was $804.4 million, up 68% from a year ago and the third highest on record after April and May of this year.
First-half exports reached 700,087 mt, up 18% from a year ago, with a value of $4.64 billion (up 28%). When numbers are compared to 2018, the record year for U.S. beef exports, first-half results were up 6% in volume and 15% in value.
Beef exports were led by an exceptional performance in South Korea, rapid growth in China, strong demand in Japan and Taiwan and a rebound in shipments to Mexico and Central and South America, according to USMEF.
Pork exports reached 238,935 mt in June, up 15% from a year ago, while export value climbed by 35% to $696.8 million.
China/Hong Kong remains the largest destination for U.S. pork in 2021, but USMEF says first-half export growth was led by Mexico and Central America, along with a sharp increase in shipments to the Philippines and Colombia.