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U.S. meat exports see record-breaking spring performance

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

                  According to data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), first quarter red meat exports set the bar high for the rest of 2021. 

                  USMEF data shows beef and pork exports had the highest monthly value in March, and both set new volume records in the same month. 

                  “It’s very gratifying to see such an outstanding breakout month for U.S. beef and pork exports,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Exports were off to a respectable start in 2021, considering the logistical and labor challenges the industry is facing and ongoing restrictions in the foodservice sector in many key markets.” 

                  He continued, “While these obstacles are not totally behind us, the March results show the situation is improving, and the export totals better reflect the strong level of global demand for U.S. red meat.”

Beef exports

                  The USMEF reported beef exports totaled 124,808 metric tons during the month of March, up eight percent from previous year values. Additionally, the export value broke $800 million for the first time at $801.9 million, 14 percent above year-over-year figures. 

                  During the same time period, beef muscle cut exports set both volume and value records at 98,986 metric tons and $718.3 million, respectively. 

                  According to USMEF, beef exports to South Korea, China and Japan remain strong. 

In South Korea, 2021 exports were eight percent ahead of 2020 in both volume and value, making the country the leading value destination for U.S. beef. USMEF shares, Korea is purchasing more U.S. chuck roll, short plate, shoulder clod and loin cuts as imports, which reflects the country’s strong demand for beef. 

                  U.S. beef exports to China reached new records in the first quarter with 14,552 metric tons totaling $109.9 million, which is more than 1,500 percent greater than 2020’s exports at this time. Currently, the U.S. is the largest supplier of grain-fed beef to China, according to USMEF. 

                  Japan holds onto the top volume market for U.S. beef, although the first quarter export is nine percent ahead this time last year. Higher tariff rates were triggered March 18, and remained in effect for 30 days. 

Pork exports

                  USMEF reported pork export values were up six percent from a year ago to $67.71 per head in March. The exports during the first quarter accounted for 29.9 percent of total pork production and 27.1 percent of pork muscle cuts, both down 1.5 percent from last year. 

                  Pork exports to Japan in March totaled 40,746 metric tons, up 11 percent from 2020. Exports to Mexico increase in volume by five percent to 66,174 metric tons, while the value rose 21 percent to $130.2 million. 

                  Shipments to Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua were record-setting and high exports to Panama were reported. Exports to the Philippines were up 190 percent over year-ago levels with values reaching $62.4 million, up 201 percent from 2020. March exports to the Philippines soared to a record 11,736 metric tons in March following decrease in tariff rates for imported pork muscle, up almost 500 percent from 2020 and doubling the February figures. 

Lamb exports

                  U.S. lamb exports in March were up 54 percent from this time last year and were valued at $1.5 million, a 22 percent increase. According to USMEF, the first quarter export volume was up 64 percent from last year, but value decreased four percent. 

                  Mexico leads demand for lamb variety exports, while the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Canada trended higher.  

                  Information in this article was sourced from a U.S. Meat Export Federation report. 

Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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