WASHINGTON – The beef totals for 2022 set annual records according to the data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) from the US Department of Agriculture.

Pork data showed that exports ended up lower year-over-year, but export value was the third largest on record trailing only 2020 and 2021. USMEF added that pork exports continued to garner momentum in December led by another strong performance in Mexico.

Total beef exports for the month of December came in at 112,707 tonnes, with export volume down 7% from a year ago. Value also fell 21% to $782.6 million. 

USMEF said the December decline was due in part to a sharp drop in exports to China/Hong Kong, where demand had been constrained by persistent zero-COVID policies. China lifted most COVID restrictions in early December and resumed some international travel in early January. Along with the recent easing of COVID-related cold chain regulations and inspections, these changes offer a more optimistic demand outlook for 2023. 


“2022 was a ground-breaking year for US beef’s international presence, with global demand stronger than I’ve seen in all my years in the industry,” said Dan Halstrom, president and chief executive officer for USMEF. “Late in the year, exports certainly felt the impact of persistent headwinds in our large Asian markets, including depressed trading partner currencies and COVID-related challenges in China, but the long list of countries in which records were set showcases the industry’s focus on diversifying export markets. While the year ahead will be challenging due to supply constraints, the exchange rate situation has improved, and we still see room for growth in the foodservice sector as more regions continue their gradual rebound from COVID.” 

Total beef results from 2022 showed volume at 1.47 million tonnes, a 2% increase from the previous record in 2021.    

Export value also increased to $11.68 billion, up 10% from 2021 and up nearly 40% from the previous five-year average. 

In 2022, pork export volume fell behind the 2021 pace at 2.67 million tonnes. Export value stood at $7.68 billion, down 5% from a year ago. 

For pork exports in December, volume was up 13% from a year ago to 244,718 tonnes as export value reached $687.3 million, up 14% compared to the same month last year. USMEF said this was the second-largest month of 2022 behind November.

Beef exports to China/Hong Kong finished strong in 2022 by making $2.55 billion, up 22% from 2021, volume also climbed 16% to 278,294 tonnes. However, December proved to be difficult as exports fell more than 30% from 2021 in both volume (14,863 tonnes, down 31%) and value ($132 million, down 33%). 

“China announced sweeping changes to its COVID policies in early December, removing many restrictions on domestic travelers and consumers, and later removed restrictions on cold chain products and international travel,” USMEF stated. “But these changes came amid a massive wave of COVID cases that steadily climbed throughout the month before peaking in most major metropolitan areas in early January.”

Through the year, Mexican pork exports climbed to a record 960,000 tonnes up 10% from 2021. Export value also set a new record at $2.03 billion, up 21% from a year ago. USMEF said this was the first time pork exports to Mexico topped $2 billion in this market. 

December pork exports also set a value record in Central America and trended higher year-over-year to China/Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Australia. Exports to the Dominican Republic in 2022 were record-large in both volume (85,551 tonnes, up 46%) and value ($233.6 million, up 55%). 

Year-to-year totals for lamb muscle cuts exports finished strong reaching 2,225 tonnes which is up 59%, while export value increased 49% to $13.2 million.