DENVER – July values for U.S. beef and pork exports dropped a little from the totals achieved in June, but both exceeded year-ago levels with beef posting close to a 40% increase over 2009 levels.

Based on statistics released by U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, beef export value surged to $366.3 million in July, pushing the cumulative January-July value to more than $2.19 billion – 25% higher than last year's pace and virtually even with the pre-bovine spongiform encephalopathy peak value of 2003. In terms of volume, the 588,030 metric tons of beef exported through July is 15% higher than in 2009.

Pork export value in July was 4% higher than last year at $385.8 million, pushing the 2010 cumulative January-July total to $2.74 billion. This is 8% higher than in 2009 and just 1% off the all-time record pace established in 2008. July export volume was 4% lower than July 2009, but the cumulative volume (1.1 million metric tons) was still up 2% from last year.

Despite being well below last year's results in Mexico – the No. 1 export market for U.S. beef – and remaining relatively flat in No. 2 market Canada, beef exports are performing extremely well across the globe. South Korea, Vietnam and Russia posted the largest year-over-year increases in July, but strong growth has also been achieved this year in Japan, the Middle East, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the European Union and the Caribbean.

Exports to Mexico still trail last year's pace by more than 20% in both volume (138,807 metric tons) and value ($450.5 million), but showed signs of strengthening in July as export value ($70.1 million) was just 3.5% below last year's level.

January-July exports to Canada were even with last year in terms of volume at 84,149 metric tons but up 6 percent in value at $387.4 million. In every other major market, results are substantially above year-ago levels.

Strong performance in the top three destinations for U.S. pork – Japan, Mexico and Canada – has helped offset slower results in Korea, Vietnam, China and Russia and has kept export results ahead of last year's pace. Mexico shattered its all-time record for purchases of U.S. pork in 2009, but has surpassed that pace in 2010 by 8% in volume (311,206 metric tons) and 31% in value ($560 million). The market has proven very resilient, even as prices for ham and other popular cuts have risen significantly. New 5% retaliatory tariffs on ham and shoulder cuts had not yet taken effect in July.

Japan, the largest value market for U.S. pork, got off to a slow start in 2010, but pulled even with last year's pace in terms of volume (259,947 metric tons) and was 3% higher in value ($968.9 million). Exports to Canada, the third-largest market for U.S. pork, reached 104,132 metric tons valued at $353.8 million – increases of 13% and 24%, respectively.