WASHINGTON – Beef exports continued to trend upward in July setting another new value record according to data from the US Department of Agriculture that was compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). 

The export value of beef increased 45% to $939.1 million for the month, while volume of beef shipped was the third largest of the post-BSE era, at 122,743 tonnes, up 14% from 2020.

"Beef exports were really outstanding in July, especially with COVID-related challenges still impacting global foodservice as well as persistent obstacles in shipping and logistics," said Dan Halstrom, president and chief executive officer of the USMEF. "Retail demand continues to be tremendous, as evidenced by the new beef value record.”

For the first seven months of 2021, beef exports increased 18% from 2020 to 822,830 tonnes, with value up 30% to $5.58 billion. 

July pork exports remained steady with numbers from last year at 221, 809 tonnes. However, export value jumped 20% to $657.3 million. Pork variety meats showed strong numbers at 54% from the low total posted in 2020 and 16% above July 2019. Variety meat export value was the second highest on record at $116.7 million up 69% from a year ago and 39% above 2019.

For January through July, pork exports were 1% above last year's record pace at just under 1.8 million tonnes, while value increased 8% to $4.98 billion. 

“On the pork side, the US industry remained focused on market diversity even when China's import volumes were absolutely off the charts,” Halstrom said. “That philosophy is paying strong dividends now, with exports maintaining a record pace even as muscle cut exports to China trend significantly lower."

Halstrom added that these pork numbers were promising especially after the difficulties of mid-2020.  

"While the tight labor situation is still very much a challenge for exporters, the variety meat capture rate has certainly improved and it is great to see exports exceed pre-COVID levels," he said. "This is especially important because China's demand for pork variety meat remains strong and it is critical that the US industry capitalizes on this opportunity." 

Beef exports to China continued to increase in July and reached 18,021 tonnes, which was valued at $150.5 million. Through the first seven months, exports to China were up 1,000% from a year ago both in volume (99,022 tonnes) and value ($733 million). US beef accounted for 5% of China’s total imports, and the US is now the primary supplier of grain-fed beef to China. The Asian markets of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea also showed steady exports during this time period.

For July, Mexican pork exports moved back from the large totals in May and June. Still, volume increased 18% from 2020 to 66,442 tonnes while value soared 81% to $146.5 million. 

Pork exports to Japan in July trended higher in July at 31,344 tonnes which is up 7%. Value was also up 8% to $138.3 million. Following a record performance in 2020, pork exports to Central America continued to grow with July exports totaling 9,196 tonnes, one-third higher than a year ago, while value increased 64% to $26.8 million.

Lower demand in leading market Mexico pushed July exports of US lamb below last year, but January-July exports were still 13% above last year's pace at 7,982 tonnes, with value up 10% to $10.8 million.