DENVER – U.S. pork, beef and lamb exports in 2008 each recorded double-digit increases over 2007 levels, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Pork achieved a 17th consecutive record-setting year of increased export numbers in 2008. For the month of December, total pork (pork plus variety meat) export volumes rose 19.7% over 2007 while export values rose 19.2%. For 2008: volume was up 57% to more than 2 million metric tons (4.5 billion lbs.) and value up 55% to nearly $4.9 billion.

U.S. beef exports increased 10.8% in volume and 16.5% in value in December versus one year ago. For 2008, export volumes increased 28% to 984,712 metric tons (nearly 2.2 billion lbs.) while values jumped 38% to $3.6 billion. Canada and Mexico are the top two destinations for U.S. beef, accounting for 56% of the volume and 58.4% of the value of all U.S. beef exports in 2008.

Meanwhile, the value of U.S. lamb and mutton exports (plus variety meat) increased 44% to $25.3 million even though volume dropped 17% to 7,867 metric tons (17.3 million lbs.).

"Mexico continues to dominate as the largest market for U.S. beef, while Canada is consistent with the previous two months and the first quarter of 2008, although well below volumes seen in the second and third quarters of this year," said Erin Daley, U.S.M.E.F. economist. "And exports to Japan are up 29% for December and 59% for the year in volume."

For the year, U.S. pork exports to Russia reached 217,767 metric tons (480.1 million lbs.) valued at $476 million -- increases of 118% in volume and 130% in value over 2007. In December, however, both the volume and value of pork exports was down sharply from one year ago, reaching the lowest volume levels since December 2006.

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