DENVER — Spring shaped out to be a fruitful season for US red meat exports, as April pork shipments reached the highest volume and value since nearly three years ago, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Meanwhile, US beef exports also performed well with the largest volume in 10 months.

Fueled by a record performance in leading market Mexico and broad-based growth in several other regions, pork exports totaled 277,910 tonnes in April, up 14% from a year ago and the fifth largest on record. Export value topped the third highest on record with an 18% jump from a year ago to $778.8 million. Pork export value equated to $72.46 per head slaughtered, which is 7% higher than last year.

“While Mexico was definitely the pacesetter in a tremendous month for pork exports, it was only part of the story,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and chief executive officer. “Demand continued to build in South Korea, Central America, Colombia, Australia and the ASEAN, and we saw very encouraging growth in Japan. It was also great to see export value per head above the $70 mark for the second consecutive month.”

On the beef side, Western and Middle Eastern markets drove improved performance. April beef shipments totaled 111,580 tonnes, a slight increase from last year and the largest since June 2023. Export value increased 5% to $898.7 million, also the highest since June.

Shipments to Mexico reached the highest value in more than three years. USMEF noted that a severe drought in the country and surging imports of corn have led Mexico to export more feeder cattle to the United States and import more US beef. Exports also trended higher year-over-year to several other Western Hemisphere markets and to Japan and the Middle East. Through April, US beef accounted for 69% of Korea’s chilled imports and 72% for Taiwan.

“Mexico also continued to shine on the beef side, along with the Caribbean, Central America and the Middle East,” Halstrom said. “These markets are benefiting from foodservice demand and currency advantages compared to the main Asian markets. The headwinds in Asia remain formidable, but the tourism boom in Japan has helped solidify demand and exports have stabilized this year, despite the continued weakness in the yen and strong competition from Australia. Robust retail and e-commerce demand has helped US chilled beef continue to dominate in Korea and Taiwan.”

April lamb exports rose above last year’s total by 33% to 224 tonnes but have been the lowest since December 2023. Export value jumped 21% from a year ago to $1.25 million. Growth was driven primarily by the Caribbean and Mexico, but shipments also increased year-over-year to Canada, the Philippines and Taiwan.