Pork exports continue to maintain a record pace in 2020, increasing 10% year-over-year in September.

According to new data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, beef exports were fairly steady with last year in major Asian markets, but trended lower overall.

Pork Exports Continue to Grow

In September, pork exports reached 222,475 metric tons (mt), with value increasing 6% to $563.2 million, USMEF reports in a release. Pork shipments to China/Hong Kong remained higher than a year ago in September but made up a smaller share of the global total compared to recent month. Exports set a new record for Canada and increased year-over-year to Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Chile and the Caribbean, USMEF notes.

During the first nine months of the year, pork exports were 16% ahead of last year’s record pace in both volume at 2.22 million mt and value at $5.69 billion. The increases were even higher for pork muscle cuts, jumping 22% to 1.87 million mt valued at $4.93 billion, up 19%, USMEF reports.

“Exporting countries are watching the hog production recovery in China very closely, because we know its demand for imported pork is moderating,” USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in a release. “While USMEF is pleased to see U.S. pork exports to China/Hong Kong maintaining a strong pace, it is vitally important that our export destinations remain diversified. The U.S. industry continues to pursue this goal aggressively, both in the Asia Pacific region and the Western Hemisphere.”

Beef Exports Down Slightly

Meanwhile, beef exports were down 6% in September from a year ago to 103,277 mt, valued at $600.9 million, down 9%. After record performances in August, exports to South Korea and Taiwan remained strong and exports set another new record in China. However, obstacles related to COVID-19 continued to have a negative impact on the demand for U.S. beef in several key markets such as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, USMEF reports.

“Although restaurant traffic and foodservice activity are not back to normal in most Asian markets, USMEF is very encouraged by the recovery in Asia and this was especially evident in the strong August and September exports of U.S. beef to Korea, Taiwan and China,” Halstrom said in a release.

Beef exports trailed last year’s pace from January through September by 8% in volume or 911,936 mt, and 9% in value or $5.55 billion.

“As we close out the year, U.S. beef has a great opportunity to capture greater market share in Asia due to tightening supplies from Australia. While it will require more time, we also expect U.S. beef to regain momentum in regions where beef demand depends more heavily on travel and tourism, and where e-commerce channels are not as well-developed,” Halstrom said in a release.

Farm Journal’s Pork | Jennifer Shike| November 05