WASHINGTON – The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) October data released and complied by the US Dept. of Agriculture showed that US pork exports continued to gain with a chance to keep up 2020’s record pace. Beef export numbers show a fairly steady position, but remain lower in variety meat volumes, which continue to push total beef exports below 2019 figures.

Pork exports were at 242,536 tonnes for September up 8% from 2019. Pork value also increased 8% to $641.1 million. For the first 10 months of the year, pork exports were up 15% from the previous year’s record pace at 2.46 million tonnes and up 16% in value at $6.33 billion.

Pork muscle cuts were strong as well jumping to 20% in volume to 2.07 tonnes and valued at $5.49 billion, an increase of 18%. Pork export value averaged $46.87 per head slaughtered in October, down 3% from a year ago, while the January-October average increased 12% to $57.33.

Exports accounted for 26% of total October pork production and 23.2% for muscle cuts only which is up from 24% and 20.9%, respectively. Through October, exports accounted for 29.2% of total production and 26.5% for muscle cuts, up from the 2019 ratios of 26% and 22.6%.

In October, beef numbers remained a little lower than 2019, which continued the trend of this year.

Beef exports for October decreased 0.4% from 2019 to 107,591 tonnes. Export value also fell by 0.5% to $646 million. During the last 10 months, beef exports showed an 7% volume decrease compared to 2019 at 1.02 million tonnes and 8% less in value at $6.2 billion.

Beef export value averaged $283.94 per head slaughtered in October, which is steady with last year, while the January-October average decreased 5% to $293.99.

October beef exports accounted for 12.7% of October beef production, down slightly from a year ago. In muscle cuts only, beef production saw an increase from 10.5% in 2019 to 10.8%.

Ten-month exports accounted for 13.2% of total beef production and 11% for muscle cuts, each down about one-half percentage point from a year ago.

“While the tight labor situation continues to limit the cut and variety meat specifications available for export, red meat demand is strengthening in many critical markets,” said Dan Halstrom president and chief executive officer for USMEF. “October exports of bone-in hams, for example, were near the July record and up 50% from a year ago.

“This has been a volatile year, filled with shifts in consumer preferences and a lot of uncertainty for international buyers. But the US industry has responded positively to these challenges and the demand dynamics for red meat are quite strong as we approach year’s end. When the gains made at retail over the past several months are combined with a stronger foodservice recovery, the prospects for export growth are very promising.”

USMEF said China and Hong Kong continued to increase from 2019 levels. Exports for the month reached 70,865 tonnes, up 16% from a year ago, valued at $157.5 million (up 11%).

Through October, exports to China and Hong Kong continued a strong pace at 871,612 tonnes (up 86%) and valued at just under $2 billion (up 104%).

October Mexico pork exports went up 11% to 60,798 tonnes and valued at $104.8 million (up 8%). January-October exports to Mexico were still down 6% in volume (551,691 mt) and 12% in value ($895.5 million) from a year ago.

For October beef exports, Japan was up 10% in volume from 2019 at 23,353 tonnes to $146.8 million.

September lamb exports were lower than the previous few months, but totaled 956 tonnes, a 20% decrease in volume. Value was 35% lower at ($1.5 million).