WASHINGTON – US beef exports made gains ahead of 2012 levels, but pork exports saw a slight decline, according to data compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“On the beef side, the industry aggressively pursued the opportunities available for US product when market access was expanded in Japan and Hong Kong, and we are seeing exciting growth in both those markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “On the pork side, we are continuing to face challenges from strong competition in Japan that is driving down our market share, and access issues with Russia continue to hamper our industry, both in pork and beef.”

US beef exports were helped by strong performances in Japan and Hong Kong and higher demand from Mexico, USMEF said. Beef exports to Japan jumped 37 percent while exports to Mexico sharply increased 65 percent, according to USMEF. Exports to Hong Kong were 102 percent higher in 2013. Overall, US beef exports climbed nearly 5 percent in September and are up 1 percent for the year. The value of those exports increased nearly 16 percent to Japan, 56 percent to Mexico, 182 percent to Hong Kong and more than 41 percent to South Korea, according to USMEF. The value of US beef exports increased 14 percent for the month and remained 10 percent ahead of the 2012 pace that set a record of $5.51 billion.

Japan remains the top export market for US beef in 2013, accounting for 21.3 percent of the total volume and 24.2 percent of the value, according to USMEF. Mexico came in second with September exports increasing nearly 65 percent in volume (18,990 metric tons) and 56 percent in value ($82 million) over 2012 levels. For the year, US beef exports to Mexico slipped 1 percent in volume (149,887 metric tons) while value remained flat at $641.7 million.

Continued access restrictions in Russia and market competition in Japan pressured US pork export sales, USMEF reported. US pork exports declined 5 percent in value and 9 percent in volume for September. Both categories were down 5 percent for the year. A bright spot for US pork was in the China/Hong Kong region, which posted a 14 percent gain in volume and 24 percent advance in value for September, according to USMEF. Strong sales in the ASEAN region resulted in gains of 45 percent in volume and 47 percent in value.