Analysis Meat

Diversification key to success of US meat exports

May 8, 2024 - Matthijs Bremer

The American meat export is doing well, as can be read in a recent press release from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). While American pork exports remain consistently high, beef exports show cautious signs of recovery. Diversification appears to be the key to success, especially considering the decrease in exports of both beef and pork to Mexico, the main American export market.

American pork exports are still very strong. Compared to a year ago, exports increased by 0.1% to 260,400 tons. This is the strongest export in nine months. The export value rose to $740 million. In the first quarter, exports increased by 6% to 762,700 tons. Meanwhile, the export value in this period increased by 7% to $2.11 billion.

The press release states that the United States is reaping the benefits of diversifying pork exports. While demand from the crucial Mexican market decreased slightly, growth in the Korean, Colombian, South American, and Australian markets resulted in a strong outcome.

South Korean top result
Exports to South Korea were particularly strong. The export volume increased by 44% to 27,500 tons. The export value increased even more. In total, the export brought in $90 million, about 54% more than a year earlier. The export volume increased by 54% in the first quarter to 69,400 tons. The value increased by 59% to $227.6 million. This makes South Korea surpass Canada as the fourth export destination for American pork. Meanwhile, export volumes in Central America increased by 28% in March to 13,600 tons, while the export value increased by 41% to $42.5 million. In the first quarter, exports increased by 21% to 37,600 tons to $114.8 million.

Exports to Mexico declined for the first time in sixteen months by 11% to 84,800 tons. This led to a 9% decrease in value, which amounted to $178.4 million. In the third quarter, exports did increase slightly. In total, the United States exported 281,200 tons, 4% more than in the same month a year earlier. The value increased by 5% to $575.1 million.

Export value increases
Meanwhile, beef exports in March reached the highest level in nine months. In total, the United States exported 108,000 tons of beef, valued at $889.9 million. Compared to March 2023, exports decreased by 0.3%. In the first quarter, volumes decreased by 4% to 311,000 tons. However, the value increased by 6% to $2.48 billion. The relatively good result was mainly due to strong performances in the Caribbean region. Additionally, results in the Middle East were strong, and sales in South Korea and Japan were good.

In March, exports to the Caribbean region reached the second strongest level for American exports. In total, exports increased by 16% to 3,400 tons. The export value increased by 12% to the second-highest level of $31.1 million. The export to the Dominican Republic was particularly notable. The export to that country increased by 17% to 1,200 tons, and the value increased by 30% to a record level of $15.4 million.

Beef exports to the Middle East also achieved a strong result. Compared to March 2023, exports increased by 30% to 5,300 tons, and the value increased by 22% to $22.2 million. In the first quarter, exports increased by 41% to 14,500 tons. The total export value for the first quarter increased by 40% to $61.5 million.

Weaker exports to Mexico
Meanwhile, for the first time in fifteen months, beef exports to Mexico also decreased. In March, exports to the southern neighbors of the United States decreased by 5% to 16,600 tons, and the value decreased by 3% to $100.2 million. In the entire first quarter, exports still increased significantly. In total, 56,500 tons were exported, an increase of 12%. The export value increased by 18% to $333.5 million.

Matthijs Bremer

Matthijs Bremer is a market specialist in pork, beef, and poultry meat at DCA Market Intelligence. He also monitors the protein transition, keeping an eye on developments in cultured meat and meat substitutes.
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