Following that record-breaking March performance, exports of both U.S. beef and pork continued to build momentum in April, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
“Looking back at April 2020, it was a difficult month for red meat exports as we began to see COVID-related supply chain interruptions and foodservice demand took a major hit in many key markets,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “While it is no surprise that exports performed much better in April 2021, we are pleased to see that global demand continued to build on the broad-based growth achieved in March.”
April exports of U.S. beef set another new value record at $808.3 million, up 35% from a year ago, with export volume reaching 121,050 metric tons (mt) – up 23% year-over-year and the fifth largest on record. For beef muscle cuts, exports were the third largest ever at 94,656 mt (up 21%), valued at a record $726.7 million (up 36%).
Beef exports for January through April moved 5% ahead of last year’s pace at 454,398 mt, with value up 10% to $2.93 billion. Beef muscle cut exports were up 8% to 357,570 mt, valued at $2.63 billion (up 12%).
Pork exports were the sixth largest on record in April at 269,918 mt, up 2% from a year ago. Export value was $749.2 million, up 10% and the fourth highest on record. Pork muscle cuts followed a similar trajectory, increasing 3% in volume (224,179 mt) and 10% in value ($641.7 million).
For January through April, pork exports were 5% below last year at 1.05 million mt, valued at $2.82 billion (down 3%). Pork muscle cut exports were down 5% to 883,599 mt, valued at $2.43 billion (down 4%).
Halstrom cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a major concern for the U.S. meat industry, adding uncertainty to the business climate in many export destinations. Logistical challenges, including container shortages and ongoing vessel congestion at many U.S. ports, also present significant obstacles for red meat exports.
A detailed summary of January-April red meat export results, including market-specific highlights, is available from the USMEF website.