Another Strong Month for U.S. Beef Exports; Pork Exports Slightly Lower Year-over-Year

U.S. beef exports posted another outstanding performance in August, remaining well above last year’s pace, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. August pork exports increased from the previous month but were down slightly year-over-year.

August beef exports totaled 112,069 metric tons (mt), up 5 percent from a year ago and the largest of 2017. Export value was the second-highest on record at $679.1 million – up 20 percent from a year ago and trailing only the record-high value ($688.8 million) reached in October 2014. For January through August, beef exports increased 10 percent in volume (823,433 mt) and 16 percent in value ($4.65 billion) compared to the first eight months of 2016.

Exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total U.S. beef production in August and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts only, compared to 13.7 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, last year. For January through August, beef exports accounted for 12.8 percent of total production (down from 13.2 percent) and 10.1 percent (steady with last year) for muscle cuts. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $290.05 in August, up 13 percent from a year ago. Through August, per-head export value was up 9 percent to $275.81.

Pork exports totaled 183,658 mt in August, down 2 percent year-over-year, valued at $511.4 million, down 0.3 percent. January-August volume remained 9 percent above last year’s record pace at 1.61 million mt, while export value increased 11 percent to $4.21 billion.

Exports accounted for 23.1 percent of total pork production in August (down from 24.1 percent a year ago) and 19.2 percent for muscle cuts only (down from 20 percent). For the first eight months of the year, the percentage of total production exported was 26.9 percent (up from 25.4 percent last year). For pork muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 22.4 percent (up from 21.3 percent). Export value per head slaughtered trended lower in August at $47.98, down 3 percent from a year ago, but the January-August average was still up 8 percent to $53.28.

“As we head into the final quarter, 2017 is shaping up as a very solid year for red meat exports but one in which the U.S. industry still faces significant challenges,” said USMEF CEO Philip Seng. “We have new pork plants coming on line and strong cattle-on-feed numbers, which sends a positive signal to our international customers about product availability. But the international markets are increasingly competitive, so we must continue to aggressively pursue new opportunities for U.S. red meat products in both our traditional mainstay destinations and in emerging markets.”

Beef exports to Japan largest of post-BSE era; strong rebound continues in Hong Kong

August beef exports to leading market Japan totaled 31,001 mt, up 22 percent from a year ago and the largest of the post-BSE era. Export value to Japan increased 35 percent and broke the $200 million mark ($200.05 million) for the first time since May 1996. For January through August, exports to Japan were up 23 percent in volume (209,502 mt) and 30 percent in value ($1.28 billion). Japan’s frozen beef safeguard was triggered in late July, increasing the duty on frozen beef imports from suppliers without a trade agreement with Japan, including the U.S., from 38.5 percent to 50 percent. The true impact of the higher duty rate will be revealed over the next few months, but August demand was not significantly affected. Frozen exports were 9,991 mt, up 15 percent from a year ago and just 2 percent below July. Chilled shipments accelerated at a faster rate (16,732 mt, up 62 percent year-over-year and up 27 percent from July), but this was already the trend prior to the duty rate increase on frozen beef.

Similar to July, beef exports to South Korea dipped slightly from a year ago in volume (17,188 mt, down 2 percent) but were still the largest of 2017, while August value increased 19 percent to $116.9 million. Through August, exports to Korea increased 8 percent in volume (116,132 mt) and 19 percent in value ($746.3 million). These totals included an impressive 88 percent increase in chilled beef exports (to 27,378 mt) valued at $243.8 million (up 94 percent).

After a slow start to the year, exports to Hong Kong continued to climb in August, with volume up 26 percent year-over-year to 9,250 mt and value increasing 41 percent to $67.7 million. January-August exports increased 14 percent in volume (74,629 mt) and were 24 percent higher in value ($485.5 million). Since the mid-June market opening, beef exports to China totaled 473 mt valued at just under $6 million.

Other January-August highlights for U.S. beef exports included:

  • Despite trending lower in August, beef exports to Taiwan increased 10 percent from a year ago in volume (28,524 mt) and 20 percent in value ($256.4 million). This included chilled beef exports of 11,854 mt (up 17 percent) valued at $140 million (up 22 percent). U.S. beef holds more than 70 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market, the highest of any Asian destination.
  • Led by Chile, Peru and Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 21 percent year-over-year in volume (18,799 mt) and 22 percent in value ($74.5 million).
  • A strong August performance helped push exports to the ASEAN region up 74 percent year-over-year in volume (26,359 mt), with value up 55 percent to $130.1 million. Exports to Indonesia and Vietnam were double last year’s level, while strong growth was also achieved in the Philippines.
  • Exports to Canada saw a strong increase in August, pushing January-August volume up 3 percent in volume (77,727 mt) and value up 6 percent to $543.7 million.
  • South Africa continued to gain momentum as a strong destination for beef variety meat, rising quickly to the fourth-largest volume destination for variety meat items. January-August variety meat exports totaled 9,910 mt, up 249 percent from a year ago.




Steady pork exports to Mexico in August; China/Hong Kong rebounds

Pork exports to Mexico remained on pace for a sixth consecutive volume record in August, with volume up slightly from a year ago to 65,037 mt. Export value also increased slightly to $129.6 million. Through August, exports increased 18 percent in volume (522,227 mt) and 22 percent in value ($984.1 million).

Exports to Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, declined in August as volume dipped 9 percent to 31,863 mt and value was down 7 percent to $140 million. Through August, exports to Japan remained modestly higher year-over-year in both volume (260,352 mt, up 1 percent) and value ($1.07 billion, up 4 percent). August chilled pork exports to Japan were the largest since March, though January-August volume (142,927 mt) was still down 3 percent from last year’s record pace. Chilled export value through August was $674.2 million, up 3 percent from a year ago. The U.S. competes primarily with Canadian pork in Japan’s high-value chilled pork market.

Other January-August highlights for U.S. pork exports included:

  • While August exports slowed year-over-year, U.S. pork continues to capitalize on strong red meat consumption growth in South Korea. January-August pork exports to Korea climbed 27 percent in volume (111,271 mt) and 32 percent in value ($305 million). Korea is an especially strong destination for pork used in further processing, but the market is highly competitive with the U.S., Chile and the European Union shipping pork to Korea duty-free under their respective free trade agreements. Canadian pork also enjoys reduced duties under an FTA with Korea.
  • In the China/Hong Kong region, August export volume was lower than a year ago but rebounded compared to the previous month. August exports were 34,616 mt (down 8 percent year-over-year but up 8 percent from July). Export value was $78.3 million, up 1 percent year-over-year and 14 percent above July). January-August exports to the region were 8 percent below last year’s pace in volume (341,080 mt) but down only 1 percent in value ($705.5 million).
  • Led by strong growth in Colombia, Chile and Peru, pork exports to South America remain on a record pace with a near-doubling of export volume (63,922 mt, up 96 percent) and value doubling to $164.8 million.
  • Despite slowing modestly year-over-year in August, pork exports to Central America are also on a record pace. Led by mainstay market Honduras, export volume reached 43,917 mt, up 5 percent from a year ago, valued at $105.7 million (up 7 percent).
  • Strong growth in the Philippines and Singapore fueled a 22 percent increase (to 30,284 mt) in pork exports to the ASEAN region, valued at $78.4 million (up 33 percent).

August lamb exports second-largest of 2017

U.S. lamb export volume in August was below last year’s level at 659 mt (down 14 percent), but this was largest total since March and the second-largest of the year. Export value was up 20 percent to $1.72 million. Through August, lamb exports were down 13 percent from a year ago in volume (5,007 mt) but increased 10 percent in value to $12.8 million. For lamb muscle cuts only, January-August exports were up 14 percent in volume (1,474 mt) and 21 percent in value to just under $9 million. This included year-over-year growth to Mexico and Canada, along with promising increases to the Netherlands Antilles, the Bahamas, Honduras, Guatemala and Taiwan.

Complete January-August export results for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

If you have questions, please contact Joe Schuele at or call 303-226-7309.


  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.