WASHINGTON – Although US beef export volume was slightly down in September, they remained strong for 2022 overall according to data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) from the US Department of Agriculture.

Total beef exports for September came in at 115,487 tonnes, compared to 2021 with export value at $890.3 million both down 7% in volume and value. 

For the first nine months of 2022, volume of beef exports from the United States were still 4% above last year at 1.12 million tonnes. Export value reached $9.12 billion, up 20% and already achieving the second highest total for any calendar year, trailing only the 2021 record ($10.58 billion).

Even with strong numbers for the entire year, the September results reflected significant headwinds that have been building for some time.

“Demand for US beef has been extremely resilient, but inflationary pressure on consumers and weakened currencies in key markets have definitely created a more challenging environment,” said Dan Halstrom, president and chief executive officer of USMEF. “Exports also continue to face logistical challenges, lockdowns in China and mounting inventories in some destinations. Still, it’s hard to view September sales of nearly $900 million as a disappointment, when this would have been an all-time record just 18 months ago. That really drives home what a remarkable year this has been for US beef exports.” 

Despite China’s zero-COVID policies that result in travel restrictions and periodic lockdowns in metropolitan areas, September beef exports to China/Hong Kong were still above last year according to the USMEF. Shipments also increased year-over-year to the ASEAN region and Caribbean, but declined to Korea, Japan and Taiwan. 

For pork exports in September, volume increased 1% from a year ago to 222,202 tonnes as export value reached $664.8 million, up 9% compared to the same month in 2021. 

Through nine months, pork export volume fell 13% below the 2021 pace at 1.94 million tonnes. Export value stood at $5.57 billion, down 11% from a year ago.

"It’s very encouraging that US pork exports continue to gain momentum, especially on the value side,” Halstrom said. "Once again we see the importance of market diversification, as the strong September performance was achieved even as the volume shipped to Mexico eased to some degree.”

For the China/Hong Kong beef market, specifically through September, exports topped 217,028 tonnes, a 23% increase from the previous year. Export value is also just under $2 billion, which is up 34%. 

For September, Mexican pork exports remained strong at 76,084 tonnes, down 4.5% from 2021. Exports were valued at $176.4 million, which is still up 25%.

Pork exports to Japan in September were at 31,008 tonnes, up 7% from a year ago. Value also increased slightly to $130 million, up 1%. 

Lamb exports for January-September increased 76% to 1,676 tonnes, which put the value up 68% to $9.9 million.