The February red meat export numbers have been released, and according to the new data, exports of U.S. beef and pork remained below the rapid pace established in 2020. The numbers, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), indicates exports were consistent with projections and USMEF still expects 2021 beef exports to increase substantially year-over-year, while pork exports are projected to narrowly surpass the 2020 record.
According to USMEF, beef exports in February were down 8% from a year ago at 103,493 metric tons (mt), with a value of $669.5 million, which is down 2%. This was due mainly to a decline in variety meat exports, as beef muscle cuts were steady with last year in value at $597.9 million on a volume of 82,530 mt (down 3%). Through February, beef exports were 5% below last year’s pace at 208,540 mt, valued at $1.32 billion (down 2%). Beef muscle cut exports were down 1% to 163,928 mt and steady in value at $1.18 billion. Beef exports to South Korea are off to a very strong start in 2021 and demand for U.S. beef continues to grow in China, capitalizing on access gains achieved in the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement.
February pork exports were down 12% from a year ago at 239,240 mt, valued at $629.4 million was down 13%). For muscle cuts only, exports fell by the same percentages to 203,526 mt valued at $548 million. Through February, pork exports were 11% below last year’s pace at 487,896 mt, valued at $1.27 billion (down 13%). Pork muscle cut exports were also down 11% to 411,760 mt, valued at $1.1 billion (down 14%). February pork exports set new records in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica and were very strong to the Philippines and Colombia. As anticipated, pork exports to China/Hong Kong trended lower than the enormous volumes shipped in 2020 but the region continues to be the largest destination for U.S. pork.
Fueled by larger variety meat shipments to Mexico, Canada, and Hong Kong, February exports of U.S. lamb increased 142% from a year ago to 1,152 mt, with a value up 19% to $1.6 million. Through February, lamb exports were up 52% from a year ago to 2,179 mt but value fell 19% to $2.8 million.
USMEF notes that despite logistical challenges and other pandemic-related obstacles, U.S. red meat export demand has remained solid. A detailed summary of the January-February export results, including market-specific highlights, is available on the USMEF website.