Pork exports continued to be strong in February, according to data released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Beef exports were lower year-over-year but improved from the low totals posted in January.
February pork exports totaled 219,729 metric tons (mt), up 11% from a year ago, while export value increased 10% to $596 million. This included a particularly strong performance for pork variety meat exports, which jumped 40% to nearly 48,000 mt, valued at $111.8 million — up 25% and the eighth highest on record.
Through the first two months of 2023, total pork and pork variety meat exports increased 12% to 456,496 mt, valued at $1.24 billion (up 13%). USMEF says pork exports are on a record pace for Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Inventory is also increasing to China-Hong Kong, Central America, the ASEAN region and Taiwan.
“After setting a value record in 2022, the momentum for pork variety meat exports continues this year,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “While this is largely attributable to a rebound in exports to China, demand is also strengthening in other markets including Mexico and the Philippines.
“It also reflects an improved labor situation, which has helped the U.S. industry increase its capture rate and broaden the range of destinations for pork variety meats.”
In February, beef exports totaled 105,057 mt, down 3% from a year ago, while export value dropped 16% to $757.8 million. Exports were down 9% through February, with values down 24%. February exports to Japan and South Korea increased slightly from a year ago, though value trended lower. Through February, beef exports trended significantly higher year-over-year to Mexico, the Caribbean, the European Union and South Africa.
Halstrom said it was good to see a slight rebound in February numbers coming off a sluggish January. He says Asian markets continue to ease indoor mask mandates and are loosening travel restrictions, which should result in an increase in food service and restaurant demand in 2023.