USMEF: US pork export value sets annual record


Led by a record-shattering performance in Mexico and broad-based growth in other markets, U.S. pork exports set a value record in 2023, according to year-end data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Posted on Feb 12 ,00:10

USMEF: US pork export value sets annual record

December pork exports climbed nearly 10% from a year ago to 268,399 metric tons (mt), the largest since May 2021 and the eighth largest on record. Export value increased 11% to $765.8 million, also the highest since May 2021 and the third highest on record. While December exports trended higher in many key markets, Mexico was once again the star performer, setting records for both volume (105,451 mt) and value ($233.8 million). 

The strong December results pushed 2023 export value to a record $8.16 billion, up 6% from 2022. Export value per head slaughtered also set an annual record of nearly $64. Export volume was 2.91 million mt, up 8% year-over-year and the third largest on record. 

"2023 saw tremendous growth in global demand for U.S. pork, and it came at a time when the U.S. industry needed it most", said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "The expansion of U.S. pork’s presence in Mexico has been remarkable but the great news certainly doesn’t end there. We are very encouraged by the robust demand we’ve seen throughout the Western Hemisphere and in a number of Asia-Pacific markets as well". 

December exports of U.S. beef totaled 108,497 mt, down 4% year-over-year but the largest since August. Export value was also the highest since August and climbed 10% year-over-year to $860.8 million. 

December was another outstanding month for pork exports to Mexico, which climbed 17% year-over-year to 105,451 mt, breaking the previous monthly record (October 2023) by 5%. Export value increased 18% to $233.8 million, topping the previous record (November 2023) by 6%. 

2023 exports to Mexico were record-large in both volume (1.1 million mt, up 14%) and value ($2.35 billion, up 15%). While pork muscle cuts accounted for more than 85% of the export volume to Mexico, pork variety meats posted impressive gains in 2023, climbing 28% to 159,508 mt, valued at $302 million (up 34%).

Fueled by robust growth in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, December pork exports to Central America climbed 20% to a record 18,121 mt, valued at a record $53.3 million (up 19%). 2023 exports were the second largest on record at 137,469 mt, up 15% from 2022 and down just 1.5% from the 2021 record.  Export value increased 20% year-over-year to $405.7 million, an annual record. 

Although December pork exports to the Dominican Republic were below the large year-ago totals, 2023 exports still reached new highs for both volume (99,610 mt, up 16% from 2022) and value ($276.2 million, up 18%). Domestic production challenges related to African swine fever (ASF) have definitely provided a tailwind for U.S. exports to the DR. But pork demand has also surged at both retail and foodservice, buoyed by an impressive post-COVID rebound in tourism. 

Other 2023 results for U.S. pork exports include: 

  • Despite a slight decline in shipments to leading market China, pork variety meat exports reached new heights in 2023, climbing 9% year-over-year to 585,806 mt, valued at $1.37 billion (up 7%). In addition to outstanding growth in Mexico (see above), variety meat exports also increased impressively to the ASEAN, Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Taiwan. China remained the largest destination for variety meat shipments at 335,591 mt (down 1% from 2022), valued at $854.6 million (up 1%). 
  • December pork exports to South Korea surged 64% from a year ago to 23,912 mt – the largest in more than four years. Export value climbed 69% to $81.9 million, the highest in more than five years and the third highest on record. These results pushed 2023 exports 9% above the previous year at 191,262 mt, the third largest on record. Export value increased 4% to $633.4 million, the second highest on record. 
  • Led by excellent growth in Chile and Peru and a fourth quarter rebound in leading market Colombia, pork exports to South America increased 2% in volume (118,660 mt) and 10% in value ($340.6 million) over 2022. After a slow start to the year, shipments to Colombia regained momentum and reached 98,876 mt, down 3% year-over-year, while value increased 10% to a record $272 million. Exports to Chile climbed 39% to 15,733 mt, valued at $53.1 million (up 11%), while shipments to Peru increased 23% to 2,298 mt, valued at $6.5 million (up 17%).   
  • With shipments nearly doubling to both Australia and New Zealand, pork exports to Oceania rebounded strongly in 2023. Exports to the region were the largest since 2020, increasing 98% year-over-year to 79,718 mt, while value climbed 79% to $283.5 million. Due to product restrictions, most pork shipments to Oceania are raw material for further processing. However, the region also has a growing appetite for value-added U.S. processed products. 
  • Led by higher volumes to the Philippines and Vietnam and surging demand in Malaysia, pork exports to the ASEAN reached 64,158 mt in 2023, up 22% year-over-year. Export value declined slightly, falling 4% to $150 million. Exports to Malaysia, where ASF has weighed heavily on domestic production, soared by nearly 1,700% to 5,170 mt, valued at $16.3 million (up more than 1,500%). Malaysia’s imports of European pork were also record-large, topping 44,000 mt through November. 
  • Though pork exports to Japan trended modestly lower in 2023, December shipments increased 9% year-over-year to 26,826 mt, valued at $111.5 million (up 11%). For the full year, exports declined 4% to 342,163 mt. While export value fell 5% to $1.4 billion, Japan is the second highest value destination for U.S. pork, trailing only Mexico. 
  • December pork export value equated to $70.74 per head slaughtered, up 6% year-over-year and the third highest on record, trailing only April and May 2020, when demand from China was surging. The full-year average was a record $63.76 per head, up 4% from 2022. Pork variety meat export value equated to a record $11.09 per head slaughtered, up 9% (or 93 cents) from 2022. December exports accounted for 31.9% of total pork production and 28% for muscle cuts, up from 30.6% and 25.6%, respectively, in December 2022. The full year ratios were a record 29.6% of total production (up from 27.6% in 2022) and 25.4% for muscle cuts (up from 23.8%).

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