U.S. pork exports, which posted a strong finish in 2022, maintained momentum in January, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. U.S. beef exports were record-breaking in 2022 but slowed late in the year. This trend continued in January, as shipments were well below the large totals from a year ago.
January pork exports totaled 236,767 metric tons, up 13% year-over-year, while export value climbed 16% to $643.4 million. Exports to Mexico, which finished 2022 on a remarkable run on the way to an annual record, set another volume record in January. Exports also trended significantly higher year-over-year to China/Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Honduras and the ASEAN region.
"While Mexico is certainly the pacesetter for U.S. pork exports, it's encouraging to see such broad-based growth," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Market diversification is always a point of emphasis for the U.S. industry, and it's more important than ever to find new opportunities for U.S. pork in both established and emerging markets."
Beef exports declined to several major destinations in January, though shipments increased sharply to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Africa. January volume fell 15% year-over-year to 100,942 mt, valued at $702.3 million (down 32%).
Beef inventories swelled in some key markets near the end of last year, contributing to a challenging environment for U.S. exports.
"While beef exports are off to a slow start in 2023, we remain optimistic that post-COVID foodservice demand will strengthen in additional markets as the year progresses," Halstrom said.
January exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts totaled 222 mt, up 161% from the low year-ago volume, while export value essentially doubled to $1.1 million (up 99%). Growth was led by strong increases to Mexico and the Caribbean, while shipments were also higher to Canada and Guatemala.
A detailed summary of the January export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb, including market-specific highlights, is available from the USMEF website.