DENVER – Although US pork and beef exports in January were well above year-ago levels, both were less than the totals recorded in the previous month, based on statistics compiled by the US Meat Export Federation. Pork exports totaled 165,138 metric tons valued at $396.9 million - an increase of 15% in volume and 19% in value over January 2010. Beef exports made an even larger year-over-year jump, increasing 24% in volume to 89,673 metric tons and 43% in value to $355.6 million.

Japan showed no softening from its record-breaking performance of 2010, when it bought more than $1.6 billion in US pork. January exports to Japan totaled 35,765 metric tons valued at $133.5 million - an increase of 28% in volume and 24% in value over a year ago. USMEF’s team in Japan continues to launch new initiatives, including a new pork butt promotion aimed at educating consumers about the quality and versatility of this cut, to help keep this momentum going throughout the year.

Exports to China were also strong, reaching 19,258 metric tons valued at $29.1 million. This market was essentially closed in January 2010, making a year-over-year comparison difficult. But this volume total is about 90% of that achieved in January 2008 -- a year of record-large exports to China.

US pork exports to South Korea were up 128% in volume (13,183 metric tons) and 163% in value ($32.1 million) compared to January 2010. Global Trade Atlas data shows South Korea's pork imports from all sources have increased by about 60% over a year ago. Mexico, which just missed the $1 billion mark for US pork during a record-breaking 2010, calmed down slightly in January but still bought 50,148 metric tons valued at $86.9 million.

US beef exports cracked the $4 billion mark for the first time in 2010, and showed no signs of slowing down in 2011. Mexico was the only major market to post a decline in 2010 as it still struggles to recover from the global economic slump, but showed renewed momentum in the fourth quarter of the year. This trend continued in January with an 18% jump in the value of exports ($74.9 million) on volume (20,2411 metric tons) that was slightly below last year.

Canada strengthened its No. 2 market position for US beef, with January exports up 17% in volume (12,917 metric tons) and surging one-third in value to $63.1 million. Despite limited market access, US beef continued to make strides in Japan with exports rising nearly 70% in both volume and value to 9,459 metric tons valued at $47.2 million. Exports to South Korea continued to show strength, increasing 63% in volume (11,975 metric tons) and 81% in value ($49.2 million) over January 2010.

Taiwan was the only major market to show a year-over-year decline in US beef demand, with exports dropping 14% in volume to 2,609 metric tons and 4% in value to $16.8 million.