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Positive results across the board for U.S. porkPositive results across the board for U.S. pork

Pork exports set fresh new volume record in November

January 9, 2017

6 Min Read
Positive results across the board for U.S. pork
National Pork Board

Source: USMEF

U.S. red meat exports continued to build momentum in November, highlighted by a new monthly volume record for pork exports. Both pork and beef exports exceeded year-ago levels by more than 20 percent in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

November pork exports totaled 225,757 metric tons (mt), up 24 percent year-over-year and breaking the previous record (218,132 mt) set in October 2012. Export value was $586.8 million, up 30 percent from a year ago and the highest since May 2014. For January through November, pork export volume was up 7 percent from a year ago to 2.09 million mt, while export value increased 5 percent to $5.38 billion.


Even with U.S. pork production reaching record levels, exports are accounting for a larger share. November export volume equated to 28 percent of total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – substantial increases over the November 2015 ratios of 24 percent and 21 percent. For January through November, exports accounted for 25.5 percent of total production and 21.4 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.9 percent, respectively, in 2015. November export value averaged $55.09 per head slaughtered, up 19 percent year-over-year. The January-November average was $49.63 per head, up 2 percent.

November was also a very strong month for beef exports, which totaled 155,335 mt – up 20 percent year-over-year and the largest since July 2013. Export value increased 21 percent to $619.1 million, the highest since December 2014. This pushed January-November export volume to 1.07 million mt (up 10 percent year-over-year) valued at $5.72 billion (down 1 percent).

November exports accounted for nearly 15 percent of total beef production and 11.7 percent for muscle cuts only – the highest levels since 2014. January-November exports accounted for 13.5 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively – up from 13 percent and 10 percent during the same period in 2015. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter reached a 2016 high of $294.39 in November, up 5 percent from a year ago. For January through November, per-head export value averaged $258.48, down 7 percent.

“With recent increases in both pork and beef production, the U.S. industry faces a significant challenge in terms of moving these larger supplies,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “But with aggressive and well-targeted international marketing efforts, this also presents an outstanding opportunity to grow our market share in established export destinations and cultivate new opportunities in emerging markets. U.S. exports are achieving success on both fronts, and USMEF is committed to keeping this strong momentum going in the New Year.”

Mexico a powerful pacesetter

Demand for U.S. pork gained further momentum in Mexico in November, where a fifth consecutive record year for export volume is now within reach. November exports totaled 73,984 mt, up 21 percent year-over-year and pushing January-November volume (649,992 mt) nearly even with the record pace of 2015. Export value was up 32 percent in November ($139.2 million) and January-November export value increased 4 percent to $1.19 billion.

Though still lower year-over-year, pork exports to leading value market Japan continued to strengthen in November, increasing 24 percent from a year ago in volume (37,317 mt) and 35 percent in value ($153.4 million, the highest since April 2015). Through November, export volume to Japan was down 5 percent to 357,808 mt, while export value ($1.44 billion) pulled within 1 percent of the previous year’s pace. 2016 will be a record year for chilled pork exports to Japan, which were up 10 percent through November to 201,828 mt.

Other highlights to U.S. pork include:

  • While pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong continue moderate, pork variety meat demand remains very strong. In November, pork variety meat exports to the region increased more than 90 percent in volume (32,398 mt) from a year ago and more than doubled in value ($69.9 million). Through November, pork variety meat exports were up 60 percent in volume (281,273 mt) and 51 percent in value ($569 million), while combined pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 497,701 mt (up 63 percent) valued at $978.9 million (up 55 percent).

  • Pork exports to Central and South America increased 7 percent in volume through November to 120,502 mt, valued at $297.4 million (up 5 percent). Year-over-year increases were achieved in all seven Central American countries, led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala, as well as in Chile. After a difficult first half, exports to Colombia have rebounded significantly in the past four months and are now just below their 2015 pace.

  • January-November exports to Canada were up 2 percent from a year ago in both volume (186,724 mt) and value ($731 million). This included a 13 percent increase in pork variety meat volume (12,451 mt), valued at $17.8 million (up 5 percent).

  • Larger exports to both Australia and New Zealand pushed January-November exports to the Oceania region up 9 percent year-over-year in volume (63,653 mt) and 2 percent higher in value ($179.6 million).

Led by Japan and Korea, Asian markets shine for U.S. beef

Following a down year in 2015, U.S. beef exports to Japan continue to stage a very impressive rebound. November exports to Japan surged by 63 percent in volume (23,598 mt) and 58 percent in value ($149.5 million) from a year ago. For January through November, export volume increased 24 percent to 237,234 mt. This included a 44 percent increase in chilled exports to 102,090 mt. January-November export value to Japan increased 16 percent to $1.39 billion.

Beef exports to South Korea have already set a new value record ($929.3 million, up 25 percent), breaking last year’s mark of $847.4 million in just 11 months. When 2016 results are final, Korea will become the fifth market (joining Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Canada) in which U.S. exports have exceeded $1 billion in a single year. January-November export volume to Korea was 158,947 mt, up 38 percent year-over-year. This included a 37 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 20,325 mt.

Other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

  • November was another very strong month for beef exports to Taiwan, pushing January-November results 22 percent above of the 2015 pace in volume (39,299 mt) and 10 percent higher in value to $319.5 million – already setting a new full-year value record.

  • Fueled by a resurgence in shipments to Indonesia, January-November beef exports to the ASEAN region increased 32 percent in volume (26,003 mt) and 8 percent in value ($138.6 million). Exports also posted impressive gains in Vietnam, helping offset lower exports to the Philippines.

  • Beef exports to Mexico continue to strengthen in volume, which was up 8 percent through November to 217,790 mt. Export value to Mexico was down 10 percent to $891.1 million.

Beef variety meat exports increased 10 percent from a year ago in volume (308,712 mt) through November and 4 percent in value ($820.7 million). This performance was bolstered by the addition of Indonesia, which reopened to beef variety meat in August, and South Africa, which was closed to all U.S. beef products until last January. Both are now top 10 volume markets for beef variety meat.

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