USMEF: Broad-Based Growth Drives U.S. Beef and Pork Exports to New Heights

Fueled by impressive growth in a wide range of destinations, U.S. beef and pork export value shattered previous records in May, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports also reached a new volume high in May, while pork export volume was the third largest on record.

“The outstanding May performance is especially gratifying when you consider where red meat exports stood a year ago,” noted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The industry faced unprecedented, COVID-related obstacles at all levels of the supply chain, and a very uncertain international business climate. These challenges are still not behind us, but international demand has been very resilient and the U.S. industry has shown a tremendous commitment to serving its global customers.”


Halstrom cautioned that U.S. labor availability remains a major concern and limitation for the industry, and exporters continue to face significant obstacles when shipping product overseas. Due to the ongoing, fluid impact of COVID-19, foodservice restrictions also continue to affect several key markets where dine-in service is either suspended or subject to capacity limits and shorter hours, and tourism has not yet returned in many countries.

“USMEF remains optimistic that international demand will remain strong in the second half of 2021, but the road ahead is not an easy one,” Halstrom said. “The U.S. industry must continue to be innovative and aggressive in defending existing market share, while also expanding our customer base by responding to COVID-driven changes in the marketplace and shifts in consumer trends and preferences.”

While May beef exports were expected to far exceed last year’s low totals, export volume soared to a record 133,440 metric tons (mt), up 68% from a year ago, and value increased 88% to $904.3 million. Driven by record-large exports to South Korea, continued growth in China and a strong rebound in Japan and Taiwan, May marked the third consecutive monthly value record for beef exports, which had never exceeded $800 million before March 2021. For January through May, exports reached 587,838 mt, up 15% from a year ago, while value increased 22% to $3.84 billion.

May pork exports totaled 283,617 mt, up 16% from a year ago and the third largest on record. Export value exceeded $800 million for the first time in May, climbing 31% to $813.2 million, led by the largest exports of the year to Mexico and strong growth in Central America, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and the Philippines. For January through May, pork exports were slightly below last year’s record pace at 1.34 million mt, but export value increased 3% to $3.63 billion.

Led by larger shipments to Mexico and the Caribbean, May exports of U.S. lamb were the highest of 2021 at 1,377 mt (up 43% from a year ago), valued at $1.82 million (up 67%). Through May, exports were 53% above last year’s pace at 5,733 mt, with value increasing 16% to $7.43 million.

A detailed summary of January-May red meat export results, including market-specific highlights, is available from the USMEF website.

For questions, please contact Joe Schuele or call 303-547-0030.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (www.USMEF.org) is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations.

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.