WASHINGTON – Double-digit increases in shipments to leading markets quickened the pace of US beef and pork exports in March, the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported. Leading markets included Mexico, the China/Hong Kong region and South Korea.

In March, US pork exports increased 29 percent in both volume and value compared to a year ago. Pork exports totaled 209,704 metric tons (mt) with a value of $606.7 million which represents their highest monthly total since October 2012, according to USMEF.

Beef exports gained 12 percent in volume and 17 percent in value during March. Total volume was 93,380 mt valued at $516.2 million.

“Even with high prices and supply concerns, we are working to keep the visibility of U.S. beef and pork high in our key export markets, and they continue to respond positively,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “Among the many encouraging signs are the continued strength of the Mexican market in both pork and beef, and the rebound of South Korea, which has been an area of focus for USMEF as that market has been challenged over the past year by an over-supply of domestic product.”

USMEF noted that pork exports remained strong in March despite the impact of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and a 4 percent decline in US pork production. USMEF said increased exports reflect the fact that some product was shipped out of cold storage from previous months’ production.