DENVER — US pork exports are poised for a strong second half after “excellent” performance through June, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports are not seeing the same momentum as pork, with performance well below the record pace set in 2022. First-half value almost reached $5 billion after June beef exports contributed $900 million.

June pork exports totaled 245,964 tonnes, up 12% from a year ago. Export value jumped 6% to $691.4 million. Pork variety meat exports made leaps in the first half, jumping 32% from last year at 297,000 tonnes. The momentum in pork variety meat exports was led by record-large shipments to China.

Pork exports to Mexico continue to grow at a record pace, as first-half value was more than $1 billion, up 21% year-over-year. Likewise, exports to the ASEAN region, Australia, Taiwan, the Dominican Republic and Chile surged in the first half.

Demand for US pork has “dramatically” rebounded in Taiwan, USMEF reported. June exports soared 915% above last year’s volume with 3,767 tonnes. Value was up more than 1,000% at $12.3 million.

“Mexico is certainly the 2023 pacesetter for US pork exports, but what’s really exciting is that the industry is achieving such broad-based growth internationally,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and chief executive officer. “Exports are making impressive gains in the Western Hemisphere and reclaiming market share in many Asia-Pacific markets, and US pork is well-positioned to continue gaining momentum in the second half.”

Beef exports were down slightly from last month and down 12% from a year ago with 115,107 tonnes in June. Value reached the highest it has since October, but it still dropped 13% compared to last year at $909.5 million. The pace for first-half beef exports is also down year-over-year by 10% with 669,176 tonnes and by 19% in value at just under $5 billion.

Mexico is ramping up imports of US beef as well. Shipments climbed 20% year-over-year to 18,005 tonnes. USMEF said Mexico is the largest volume destination for US beef variety meat exports.

Furthermore, gains were seen in exports to Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa and the Dominican Republic. Exports to Taiwan were the largest in 14 months, with 7,258 tonnes, up 27% year-over-year. However, exports to South Korea, China and Japan fell from 2022 numbers. USMEF noted that the value of shipments to Japan has significantly improved from May.

“It was a challenging first half for beef exports, especially when compared to the blistering pace established a year ago,” Halstrom said. “But we are encouraged to see that exports are still accounting for a consistently high percentage of total beef production, and variety meat exports have held up very well considering the decline in US slaughter. These metrics continue to illustrate the important contribution of exports in maximizing beef carcass value.”

Despite a strong start in 2023, US lamb muscle cuts exports were down in the second quarter. June exports dropped 56% from last year to 109 tonnes. Value fell as well by 45% to $843,000. However, volume increased slightly to Mexico, and the Netherlands, Antilles, the Bahamas, Guatemala and Canada exports trended higher.