Maintaining a strong pace after boasting record-breaking performance in 2021, U.S. beef exports stayed hot in January, according U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled more than 119 metric tons, up 13% from a year ago. Beef export value soared 57%, topping $1 billion. That ranks as the third-highest value total ever -- trailing only August and November of 2021. Export value per head of fed slaughter set a record as well, topping $500.

January pork exports totaled 208,808 metric tons, down 16% from a year ago as export value fell 14% to almost $556 million.

A bright spot in January, pork exports posted strong performance in Mexico, Korea and the Dominican Republic. Mexico -- the leading destination for U.S. pork -- saw U.S. exports go up 36% from a year ago, reaching a value of $136.6 million (up 24%).

Tight U.S. labor availability makes Mexico is an attractive market for bone-in hams for processing, and U.S. pork continues to make strides in Mexico’s retail and foodservice markets. 

Market forces impacting the U.S. pork industry’s ability to serve certain markets include:

  • rebounding pork production in China
  • port congestion and other logistical challenges
  • and increased shipping costs.

Source: USMEF