As many U.S. meat and seafood exporters find increasing demand abroad, the North American market is attracting fresh attention from Brazil.

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

U.S. beef exports were up 13% from a year ago in January, to more than 119 metric tons. Beef export value was more than $1 billion, up 57% from January 2021.

The recently released Processed Meat Global Market Report 2022 finds a similarly hungry global marketplace for processed meat products.

The global processed meat market is expected to grow from more than $614 billion in 2021 to more than $691 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of more than 12%, with growth largely coming from companies resuming normal operations after the COVID-19 pandemic caused operational challenges.

The report suggests the global processed meat market will close in on $1 trillion in 2026, topping $976 billion at an annual growth rate of 9%.

While U.S. marketers are enjoying record demand for U.S. beef products abroad, Brazil is positioning itself to make gains in the North American meat market.

Canada has approved the importation of beef and pork from Brazil, which had been blocked over health concerns. Clearance for pork only extends to product from the Southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, the only one recognized as free of foot-and-mouth disease without vaccination at the time of the initial request, according to the Brazilian pork and poultry lobby group ABPA.

Brazil’s seafood exporters are looking north for new market opportunities too.

With almost 60% of its seafood exports (valued at $219 million) bound for the United States in 2021, Brazil has seen its seafood sales to the United States grow more than 17% a year in value and almost 14% in volume.

A new study from Washington, D.C.-based FMI — The Food Industry Association finds Americans who are frequent seafood consumers are – not surprisingly – driving U.S. seafood sales growth.

FMI’s 2022 Power of Seafood puts seafood department sales in 2021 totaling $16.9 billion, up by about 1%.

The report cites more Americans preparing seafood at home during the COVID-19 pandemic as driving higher seafood sales.

The Power of Seafood study suggests these consumer trends are fueling sales growth:

  • 59% of U.S. consumers are frequent seafood shoppers (two or more times each week) or occasional purchasers (once a month to once a week).
  • 55% of frequent seafood consumers are eating more seafood than in previous years.
  • 40% of seafood consumers say they are buying new or different types of seafood.
  • Value-added seafood options such as heat-and-eat or grab-and-go items (44% buying more), sushi (43%) and fresh seafood that is marinated or seasoned (41%) helped drive sales as well.

To capitalize on Americans’ growing taste for seafood products, the National Seafood Council Task Force is calling for the U.S. seafood industry to come together to secure $25 million in federal funding per year for five years to promote seafood. The National Seafood Council Task Force made the proposal during a March 14 conference at the Seafood Expo North America in Boston.

The national seafood marketing campaign would focus on seafood’s health benefits to increase consumption.

U.S. average seafood consumption set a record of more than 19 pounds per person in 2019, trailing 97 pounds per capita per year for poultry and 59 pounds per year for beef, said Seafood Expo North America panelist Joe Rosenberg, a seafood importer.

While Americans are increasingly hungry for seafood, they’ve currently soured on one source of imports.

Tensions between the United States and Russia over its actions in Ukraine had Alaska’s lawmakers cheering the Biden Administration’s decision to ban Russian seafood imports to the U.S., a move they had been proposing for years.

The United States imported more than $1.2 billion in crab, cod and other fish from Russia in 2021.