DENVER – Beef export volume and value records continued to be set during May and topped $1 billion for the fourth time in 2022, according to data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) from the US Department of Agriculture.

Exports to leading markets South Korea, Japan and China/Hong Kong already topped $1 billion each through the first five months of 2022, while shipments also trended significantly higher to Taiwan, the Caribbean, the ASEAN region, the Middle East and Central America.

Beef exports to China/Hong Kong continue to increase in 2022. Through May, exports topped 110,551 tonnes a 26% increase from the previous year. Export value is also just more than $1 billion which is up 43%. 

“For US beef exports to maintain a $1 billion-per-month pace is tremendous under any circumstances, but it is especially remarkable given the strong US dollar, continued shipping and logistical challenges and the economic uncertainty our industry and international customers face today,” said Dan Halstrom president and chief executive officer for USMEF. “Across a wide range of markets, the momentum for retail beef sales achieved during the pandemic continues, and it’s now complemented by a strong rebound in the foodservice sector. May volume was actually down slightly to both Japan and South Korea, and yet exports still set a new record. That’s a great indication of soaring, broad-based demand for US beef.”

Total beef exports for the month of May came in at 135,006 tonnes with export volume up 1% from the previous high posted in May 2021. The export value hit a record $1.09 billion for beef and increased 20% from 2020. This exceeded the previous high from March 2022. 

The first five months of beef exports reached 613,266 tonnes, a 4% increase from last year. Export value also increased by more than $5.14 billion, up 34%, from 2021. 

For pork exports, volume dropped 21% from a year ago to 224,547 tonnes as export value reached $655.1 million, down 24% compared to the same month last year. Through five months, pork export volume fell 20% past the 2021 pace at 1.07 million tonnes. Export value stood at $3 billion, down 18% from a year ago.

“On the pork side, exports are still trailing the enormous totals from the first half of last year, but we’re seeing upward momentum in several markets,” Halstrom said. “Shipments to Mexico are on a record pace and demand is strong across most of the Western Hemisphere. China’s hog prices have increased about 40% since mid-June, which supports our forecast for some rebound in China’s demand for imported pork toward the end of the year. Even when China pulls larger volumes from other suppliers, this has a positive impact for US pork in a number of international markets.”

For May, Mexican pork exports remained strong at 79,849 tonnes up from 12% in 2021. Export was valued at $171.2 million which is up 13%.

Pork exports to Japan in May were at 32,223 tonnes, down 12% from a year ago. Value also fell to $132.3 million.  

Demand for US pork continues to be strong in Central America but trailed last year’s pace.  

Through May, exports climbed 13% to 50,295 tonnes, valued at $134.4 million (up 10%). 

Lamb exports for January-May were 46% above the 2020 pace at 8,368 tonnes, which put value up 68% to $12.5 million.