WASHINGTON – Exports of US beef, pork and lamb increased from the February 2017 mark in both volume and value, the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported.

Pork exports climbed 4 percent year-over-year in February to 205,466 metric tons (mt). Pork value was up 12 percent to $547.2 million. Through February, pork exports were 2 percent ahead of the 2017 pace at 408, 934 mt, and export value climbed 10 percent to $1.09 billion. 

Pork exports accounted for 27.8 percent of total pork production and 24 percent for muscle cuts only. That is up in both categories from 2017. Through February, the percentage of total pork production exported was slightly lower year-over-year at 26.1 percent, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported was a little higher at 22.7 percent. February export value averaged $56.78 per head slaughtered, up 9 percent from a year ago.

Meanwhile, exports of US beef advanced 11 percent from a year ago to 100,593 mt, while export value increased 18 percent to $599.8 million. The January-February volume increased 10 percent from the first two months of 2017 (206,079 mt), while export value was 20 percent above 2017 at $1.22 billion. 

Beef exports made up for 13.6 percent of the total beef production in February up one percent from 2017. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 10.8 percent (up from 10.1 percent last year). For the first two months of 2018, beef exports accounted for 13 percent of total production (up from 12.4 percent) and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts (up from 9.8 percent). February beef export value averaged $322.29 per head of fed slaughter, up 16 percent from a year ago.

“Red meat exports are off to a strong start in 2018 and continue to deliver excellent returns for US producers,” noted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The outstanding level of export value per head slaughtered is especially encouraging at a time in which US meat production is high and the trade climate is somewhat volatile. Through all the uncertainty, international customers remain very committed to US pork and beef. This reinforces the importance of having experienced USMEF staff members located in key markets, working every day to maintain customer loyalty and reinforce the United States’ reputation as a reliable supplier.”

With a big boost from lamb variety meat demand in Mexico, US lamb exports improved at a significant rate for 2018. Exports volume climbed 85 percent from 2017 to 899 mt, the highest since May 2017. Export value was $1.85 million, up 42 percent and the highest since March 2017. Through February, lamb exports were 55 percent higher year-over-year in volume (1,639 mt) and up 24 percent in value ($3.33 million), led by growth in Mexico, the Philippines, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

February pork exports to Mexico were similar to 2017 with 64,523 mt, while export value was somewhat higher at $117.5 million. Pork exports to Japan continue to be strong with 32, 418 mt, while value was up 3 percent to $134.7 million.

Pork was strong in Japan but beef declined in February to 20, 314 mt, which is down 15 percent from 2017. The big contributor was the frozen beef safeguard tariff which moved up to 50 percent temporarily from the 38.5 percent mark. However, February export value to Japan was down only slightly at $133.4 million. Beef exports to Mexico were 10 percent above last year’s pace in volume (39,987 mt) and 19 percent higher in value ($175 million). This included an 11 percent increase in variety meat export volume (18,720 mt) and a36 percent jump in variety meat value ($44.4 million).