U.S. pork exports are continuing year-over-year increases, but the country’s beef exports slowed in September. In fact, US beef exports failed to exceed last year’s level for the first time in 2022. Data from the USDA was analyzed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). It showed that despite the recent slowdown, beef exports still logged record levels in the first nine months of 2022.
At 222,202 metric tons, September pork exports grew by up 1% over the same month in 2021. Their value rose by 9% to $664.8 million, making it the highest monthly total since June 2021. Through September, pork exports were 13% below last year at 1.94 million metric tons, valued at $5.57 billion (down 11%).
September’s beef exports were down by 7 percent on both value and volume. The totals were 115,487 metric tons and $890.3 million. In the first three quarters of the year, beef exports were still 4% higher than 2021. The value of US beef exports hit $9.12 billion, which is a 20% increase over last year and the second-highest total ever, second only to 2021 at $10.58 billion.
The USMEF says that beef exports are still on track for another record year, however, it notes that September data indicate challenges have been brewing for the sector.
“Demand for U.S. beef has been extremely resilient, but inflationary pressure on consumers and weakened currencies in key markets have definitely created a more challenging environment,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. He also notes logistical challenges, China’s continuing lockdowns and growing beef inventories in some places as obstacles. Halstrom says that almost $900 million in sales is far from disappointing and highlights how robust beef exports have been in 2022.
Despite the continuing Covid-related issues in China, beef exports to China/Hong Kong in September were still 5% higher than September 2021, but they were also more than 7 metric tons less than in August. The value of September’s exports to China/Hong Kong were up by 7 percent. Export volume to the region in the first three quarters of the year grew by 23 percent and value was higher by 34%. The value of US beef exports to China/Hong Kong are now second only South Korea. In terms of volume, China is the third-largest market for the US after Japan and Korea.