DENVER—  Statistics released by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) show US beef exports stayed above last year’s pace in October and has a chance to break the $7 billiion mark in 2017. Also, pork exports remained ahead of the 2016 pace.

Beef exports totaled 111,287 metric tons (mt) in October, up 5 percent over last year. This was the second strongest month of the year. Export value was the second highest on record at $662 million– up 18 percent from a year ago. Through October, beef exports jumped 9 percent in volume at more than 1.038 mt while values topped $5.93 billion year to date.

Exports accounted for 13 percent of total US beef production during the month of October 2017, the highest point since July, but down from 13.9 percent last year. Muscle cuts stayed steady form the 2016 mark at 10.7 percent of beef production. From January to October beef exports accounted for 12.8 percent of total production which is down from 13.3 percent in 2016. Fed slaughter averages per head on exports were valued at $301.88 in October, up 12 percent from a year ago and the highest since December 2016. Through October, per-head export value was $279.85 up 10 percent.

Pork exports increased 5 percent year-over-year in October to 221,592 mt, up 8 percent over last year at a value of $565.4 million. For January through October, volume remained 8 percent above last year’s record pace at 2.005 million metric tons while export value increased 10 percent to $5.28 billion. Exports accounted for 25.4 percent of total pork production in October which is steady with the 2016 numbers and 21.6 percent for muscle cuts only. Export value per head slaughtered trended lower in October at $51.41, up 9 percent from a year ago, but the January through October average was still up 7 percent to $52.64.

Beef exports to Japan totaled 23,981 metric tons in August, up 19 percent from a year ago. For January through October, exports to Japan were up 29 percent in volume (260,517 tons) and 22 percent in value ($1.59 billion), already setting a new single-year record. Chilled beef continues to drive export growth to Japan, with chilled exports up 40 percent in volume with 124,699 metric tons and 43 percent in value to $918.8 million.

“The US beef industry has really broadened its reach in Japan, expanding the range of cuts offered and the retail and foodservice venues in which they are featured,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “But USMEF remains concerned about market access barriers in Japan, as we face significantly higher tariffs than our main competitor, Australia, and import safeguards that could hinder further growth.”

Export value to South Korea increased 24 percent in October from a year ago to $122.4 million. From January to October of 2017, Korean exports rose 7 percent in volume to 148,998 metric tons. and 20 percent in value ($979.3 million), including 88 percent increase in chilled beef exports (36,773 tons) valued at $329 million (93 percent).

Following a slowdown in September, the pork exports to Mexico and South America remained strong. In October, volume to Mexico rose 7 percent from last year to 69,529 tons and saw value increase to $129.8 million. Helped by Colombia and Chile, October exports to South America reached a record 12, 624 metric tons up 31 percent from a year ago with a value of $32.3 million.