DENVER – Following record-breaking numbers in 2021, US beef export demand remained strong for January 2022, according to data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) from the US Department of Agriculture.

The export value per head of fed slaughter also set a new record, exceeding $500 for the first time.  

"This is a truly remarkable run for US beef exports, and the momentum is not limited to our large Asian markets," said Dan Halstrom, president and chief executive officer of the USMEF. "Regions such as Central America and the Caribbean contributed significantly to January export growth, and export value made strong gains in the Middle East."

Total beef exports for the month of January came in at 119,066 tonnes with export volume up 13% from a year ago. The export value hit a record $1.03 billion for beef and increased 57% from 2021. 

For pork exports, volume dropped 16% from a year ago to 208,808 tonnes as export value reached $555.6 million, down 14% compared to the same month last year. 

Halstrom noted that the rebound of China’s pork market and the slowing demand for US pork has impacted global demand. 

“We have spoken often over the past year about port congestion and other logistical challenges, and shipping costs are heavily impacting the US pork industry’s ability to serve certain markets,” he said. “Australia, for example, has been a very reliable destination for US hams for further processing, but shipping raw material to Oceania is becoming cost prohibitive. The low price of European pork is also impacting demand in other further-processing markets such as Southeast Asia and Taiwan.”

Halstrom emphasized the importance of the Western Hemisphere markets and how the US industry continues to pursue new strategies for increasing pork consumption and expanding demand. Halstrom also mentioned the importance of market diversification. 

Beef exports to China/Hong Kong continue to increase in the first month of 2022. In January, exports topped 19,772 tonnes, a 69% increase from 2021. Export value is also at $194.2 million which is up 115%. USMEF projects continued growth for US beef in the region this year, though at a more moderate rate than in 2021 when export volume increased 87% year-over-year to more than 240,000 mt. The group said the US-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement was a supportive factor. 

For January, Mexican pork exports remained strong at 87,027 tonnes up from 36% in 2021. Export was valued at $136.6 million which is up 24%. USMEF said the tight US labor situation makes Mexico an attractive market for bone-in hams for further processing. 

Pork exports to Japan in January were at 26,452 tonnes, down 18%. Value also decreased 12% to $118.7 million.

Lamb showed January exports 49% above 2021 pace at 1,533 tonnes, which put value up 59% to $1.9 million.