WASHINGTON – With a month to go, US exports of pork surpassed full-year totals as of the end of November, thanks in large part to growing demand in China, while global demand for beef set new record highs for the month. Export volume and value of pork from January through November surpassed full-year records, according to the latest report from the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Monthly value and volume of beef exported from the US moved up significantly too, as demand for muscle cuts increased.

Beef export value for the month jumped by 10% over last year’s November, averaging $338.43 per head, up 10% from last year and the highest since April. Total export volume of beef in November topped 115,300 tonnes (up 6% from the previous year) while volume climbed to $707.5 million, a year-over-year increase of 8%.

According to Dan Halstrom, president and chief executive officer of USMEF, retail demand for beef across the world is expected to maintain for the year ahead as the foodservice sector has lagged, but expectations for a rebound look promising.

“Demand for US beef in the global retail sector has been outstanding and we expect this to continue in 2021,” Halstrom said. “Unfortunately, foodservice continues to face COVID-related challenges. We expect a broader foodservice recovery this year, especially from mid-2021, but will likely still see interruptions in some markets.”  

Through November of 2020, pork export volume totaled 2.72 million tonnes, a jump of 14% from 2019, while volume bumped up 13% to $7.03 billion year to date. Notably, exports of pork muscle cuts broke previous annual records, with volume increasing 18% to 2.29 million tonnes at a value that bounced 15% to $6.08 billion for the year.

“For US pork, it’s great to set new records with an entire month to spare, but especially gratifying to see a diverse range of markets contributing to US export growth,” Halstrom said. “USMEF still expects strong pork demand from China in 2021, but we’re seeing a much-needed rebound in other regions, especially in Western Hemisphere markets.”              

Not surprisingly, China was the largest destination for US pork in November while demand growth was evident in Japan, Central America and Mexico. Pork exports to Japan for the month ticked up as did year-over-year numbers. For the month, exports topped 34,600 tonnes (up 6%) as value increased to $146.4 million, a 7% increase. Year-over-year, volume of pork to Japan increased 4% to over 353,600 tonnes while value topped $1.49 billion (up 6%). Mexico’s demand for US pork shipments in November reflected a 13% increase over last year, with a 13% jump over last year at just over 65,000 tonnes.

Beef exports to Japan maintained near last November’s levels with volume of 23,871 tonnes and value slipping 3% to $157.5 million. US beef muscle cuts were a bright spot, with volume through November up 4% to more than 238,500 tonnes and value at $1.44 billion (down 1%).

US lamb exports, both for the month and year to date, were up, according to USMEF’s report. With volume nearing 1,300 tonnes in November (up 4% over last year) value dropped 32% to $1.5 million. For the 11-month period, exported lamb volume surged 29% to 18,652 tonnes with value decreasing by 8% to $21.9 million.