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Pork exports are up 14%; beef exports are down
Iowa Correspondent

DENVER, Colo. – According to data released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, February U.S. pork exports increased 14 percent from a year ago to 250,930 metric tons, while value jumped 15 percent to $685.1 million.
U.S. beef exports, however, dipped one percent from last February, while beef export value increased by 10 percent; but through the first two months of 2024, exports increased 10 percent in both volume (502,354 metric tons), and value ($1.37 billion).
“Coming off a record value year, it’s great to see broad-based momentum for pork exports continue globally into 2024,” said Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO. “While Mexico is certainly at the forefront, we are seeing excellent growth in markets like Colombia, Chile, El Salvador and the Caribbean, and demand has rebounded impressively in Korea and Australia.”
Andrew P. Griffith, University of Tennessee professor of agricultural and resource economics, told Farm World, “Doing business with your neighbor has always been important, and Mexico is our neighbor.
“Given the increase in meat protein moving to Mexico, it would appear their economic situation is improving, which will be of great benefit to our agricultural sector,” he added. “It will be important for Mexico demand to remain strong if the U.S. is going to export much beef and pork relative to 2023.”
Halstrom said, “Tight beef supplies are definitely a challenge for exporters, and that situation isn’t going to change anytime soon,” he added. “But on a positive note, we are seeing more opportunities for underutilized beef cuts, including the round, shoulder clod and variety meat, in the global marketplace.
He added, “Demand is strong throughout the Western Hemisphere and the foodservice and hospitality sectors are finally gaining some momentum in key Asian markets such as Korea, where the post-COVID-19 recovery has been slower than anticipated.”
Griffith said the primary reason beef exports were down one percent in February was simply the quantity of beef supplied to the market that was then coupled with higher beef prices.
“As we produce less beef and the price increases, we will not export as much,” he said. “However, the increase in export value demonstrates demand for U.S. beef is still strong. Thus, it tells me the decline in beef exports has more to do with availability than the price increase.”
Betty Resnick, American Farm Bureau Federation economist, agreed with Halstrom, telling Farm World tight domestic supplies are impacting U.S. beef exports.
“The U.S. cattle herd is the smallest it has been in 73 years, and beef in cold storage has fallen nearly 12 percent, year-over-year,” she said. “Beef is a premium product, and volume demanded by the global market falls as the price of U.S. beef increases.
“However, due to the price increase and the unmatched quality of U.S. beef keeping export volumes steady, we are still seeing increases in the value of beef exported,” she added. “Total beef supplies are expected to continue to shrink as high interest rates and aging ranchers make it difficult to build the herd back up, so it’s unlikely export volume will pick up significantly anytime soon.”
She said, however, “U.S. pork is plentiful and is currently price-competitive for the global market, which is being reflected by the increases in pork exports.
“Pork supplies are up in large part due to increases in production efficiency, with seven straight record-high quarters of pigs per litter,” she said. “The 21-percent, year-over-year increase in exports to Mexico, the largest export destination for U.S. pork, is also reflective of the strong Mexican peso, which increases Mexico’s buying power for all U.S. products.”
The report also said while February beef export volume to Korea was lower than a year ago, down 7 percent to 18,074 metric tons, export value climbed 12 percent to $172.3 million. February beef exports to the Caribbean were the largest on record at 2,955 metric tons, up 25 percent from a year ago, while value was fourth highest at $24.5 million, up 24 percent.
After a slow January, beef exports to Taiwan improved significantly in February, climbing 15 percent from a year ago (and 58 percent from January) to 5,091 metric tons.
“The U.S. is Taiwan’s dominant supplier of chilled beef, and the U.S. Meat Export Federation continues to familiarize importers, distributors and consumers with alternative cuts that offer a high-quality dining experience at affordable prices,” the report said.
With global pork supplies expected to contract slightly in 2024, Resnick said the USDA is projecting U.S. pork export volumes to increase 7.6 percent over 2023.
“The USDA also significantly increased its forecast for 2024 pork exports in April, as compared to January, another reflection of strong exports through the beginning of this year,” she said.
To view the full report, visit: