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November Beef Exports Set New Value Record; Pork Exports Remain Strong

Published: Jan 07, 2022

U.S. beef export value reached another new high in November, topping $1 billion for the second time in 2021, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). November pork exports were lower than a year ago, but year-to-date export value maintained a record pace at more than $7.5 billion.

November beef exports totaled 123,641 metric tons (mt), up 7% from a year ago and the fourth largest monthly volume in the post-BSE era. Export value was a record $1.05 billion, up 49% year-over-year and exceeding the previous high set in August 2021. For January through November, beef exports were on a record volume pace at 1.32 million mt, up 16% from a year ago. Beef export value, which had already set a new annual record through October, increased more than $2.5 billion from a year ago, soaring 39% to $9.59 billion.

Pork exports totaled 237,547 mt in November, down 8% from a year ago, while value was 6% lower at $658.3 million. Through November, export volume fell slightly below the record pace of 2020 at 2.71 million mt. Export value was $7.5 billion, up 7% from a year ago and rapidly approaching the annual record ($7.71 billion) set in 2020.

"With one month of results still to be tabulated, it's very gratifying to see red meat exports setting new annual records and achieving remarkable growth over a wide range of markets," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "It is important, however, that we do not take this success for granted or allow it to detract from the challenges facing U.S. agriculture. Global demand for U.S. red meat has never been stronger, but labor and transportation obstacles and high input costs across the supply chain make it increasingly difficult to satisfy this demand. USMEF greatly appreciates the effort by lawmakers, maritime regulators and other officials to address the persistent congestion at U.S. ports, but this continues to be a costly and frustrating situation for U.S. exporters and their international customers."

Beef exports poised to break $10 billion mark, setting records in key markets

Japan will finish 2021 as the leading volume destination for U.S. beef exports, but is in a neck-and-neck race with South Korea on export value. November exports to Japan totaled 27,539 mt, up 15% from a year ago, while value climbed 54% to $243.1 million. Through November, exports to Japan were 6% above last year's pace at 297,354 mt. Export value reached $2.16 billion, up 22% and exceeding $2 billion for the first time since 2018. Growth to Japan has been in the chilled beef category (142,457 mt, up 13%) and in tongues, skirts and other variety meat (58,543 mt, +38%), with continued strong retail demand.

November beef exports to Korea were 23,292 mt, up 23% from a year ago, while value soared 81% to a record $243.4 million. These results pushed January-November exports to new annual records of 258,552 mt valued at $2.17 billion – up 13% and 36% respectively and already exceeding the previous full-year highs reached in 2019. Chilled beef shipments to Korea totaled 79,619 mt, up 24%.

Beef exports to China/Hong Kong are also on pace to exceed $2 billion in 2021. Through November, exports to the region nearly doubled from a year ago to 219,264 mt (up 98%) and increased 125% in value to $1.9 billion. Direct exports to China, bolstered by greatly improved market access achieved in the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, increased more than 400% from a year ago to 172,257 mt, valued at $1.43 billion (up 502%).

Other January-November highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

  • Beef variety meat exports set a new monthly value record in November at $116.1 million, up 51% from a year ago. November volume was up 5% to 25,298 mt. Following a down year in 2020, variety meat export volume through November increased 9% to 274,425 mt. Export value reached $975.2 million, up 23% and a new annual record.
  • Despite being modestly lower in volume through November (57,349 mt, down 3%), beef exports to Taiwan already set a new value record at $600.5 million, up 18% from a year ago and topping the previous high ($567.1 million) set in 2019.
  • Beef exports to Mexico rebounded impressively in 2021, climbing 10% in volume (181,699 mt) and 33% in value ($961.5 million). Mexico is the largest volume destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which were also 10% higher in volume at 87,695 mt, while value increased 19% to $236.9 million.
  • Led by strong gains in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras, beef exports to Central America had already surpassed previous annual records by the end of October. Through November, exports climbed 57% from a year ago to 19,554 mt and soared 86% higher in value ($126.3 million).
  • Strong growth in Chile, Colombia and Peru drove beef exports to South America 33% above last year's pace at 28,875 mt, while value increased 86% to $162.5 million.
  • Beef exports to the Dominican Republic reached 7,106 mt, up 83% from a year ago, with value more than doubling to $68 million (up 120% and a new annual record).
  • Beef export value per head of fed slaughter equated to a record $480.67 in November, up 42% from a year ago. The January-November average was $402.09, up 35%. November exports accounted for 15.2% of total beef production and 12.9% for muscle cuts only, up from 14.8% and 12.6%, respectively, in November 2020. For January through November these ratios were 15% of total production, up from 13.3% a year ago, and 12.8% for muscle cuts, up from 11.1%.


Record-large shipments to Mexico and Central America bolster U.S. pork exports

Pork exports to Mexico continued to gain momentum in November at 87,440 mt, up 34% from a year ago, with value up 23% to $152.1 million. Through November, exports to Mexico totaled 794,597 mt, up 29% and just short of the annual record achieved in 2017 (802,000 mt). Export value has already set a new annual record at $1.54 billion, up 51% from a year ago.

Demand for U.S. pork continues to surge in Central America, where exports had already set new annual volume and value records through October. In November, led by strong growth in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica, exports climbed 30% to 13,887 mt, valued at $39.8 million (up 49%). For January through November, exports to the region jumped 45% from a year ago to 124,879 mt, while value was 62% higher at $339.2 million.

Following a difficult year in 2020, pork exports to Colombia have rebounded strongly, surpassing the pre-COVID pace of 2019. November exports to Colombia totaled 14,094 mt, up 85% from a year ago, while value climbed 94% to $34.2 million. Through November, exports increased 62% from a year ago to 96,751 mt, valued at $235.3 million (up 81% and a new annual record).

Other January-November highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

  • Due in part to surging retail demand for chilled U.S. pork, exports to Korea regained momentum in 2021. Through November, exports increased 7% from a year ago to 152,309 mt, while value climbed 22% to $502.8 million.
  • While November pork exports to Japan were down slightly from a year ago at 32,844 mt, value edged slightly higher to $146.7 million. Through November, exports to Japan were 3% above last year's pace at 362,501 mt, with value up 4% to $1.55 billion. Exports of chilled pork to Japan were up 4% to 197,177 mt, valued at $963 million.
  • Led by strong growth in the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, pork exports to the Caribbean increased 32% to 68,555 mt, valued at $187.1 million (up 53%). Exports to the DR have been especially strong, climbing 71% in value to $138 million.
  • Although pork shipments to the Philippines have trended lower in recent months, exports still reached new heights in 2021. With lower tariff rates on imported pork muscle cuts as a contributing factor, January-November exports to the Philippines climbed 79% from a year ago to 76,409 mt, with value nearly doubling to $198.5 million (up 91%).
  • As expected, total pork exports to China will finish 2021 significantly lower than a year ago. But even as its domestic pork production rebounds, China's demand for U.S. pork variety meat has strengthened, with exports through November up 29% from a year ago to 306,753 mt, valued at $746.4 million (up 31%). With pork variety meat shipments also trending higher to Mexico, the Philippines, Korea and Japan, global variety meat exports increased 14% from a year ago to 487,006 mt, valued at $1.14 billion (up 21%).
  • Pork export value per head slaughtered equated to $59.11 in November, down 7% from a year ago, but the January-November average was still 9% higher at $63.63. November exports accounted for 27.4% of total pork production, down from nearly 30% a year ago, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported was 24.6% (down from 27%). The January-November export ratios were 29.8% of total pork production (up from 29.3% in 2020) and 26.3% for muscle cuts (down from 26.6%).

November lamb exports trend higher

Fueled by sharply higher muscle cut exports to the Caribbean and strong variety meat demand in Mexico, November exports of U.S. lamb totaled 1,420 mt (up 9% from a year ago) and were just over $2 million in value – up 37% and the highest since January 2020. Through November, lamb exports increased 8% to 12,440 mt, while value was 17% higher at $18 million. Muscle cut exports increased 12% to 1,232 mt, valued at $7.7 million (up 24%).

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

For questions, please contact Joe Schuele or call 303-547-0030.


  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.
  • U.S. pork and beef currently face retaliatory duties in China. In February 2020, China announced a duty exclusion process that allows importers to apply for relief from duties imposed in response to U.S. Section 301 duties. When an application is successful, the rate for U.S. beef can decline to the MFN rate of 12% and the rate for U.S. pork can decline to 37% (the MFN rate plus the 25% Section 232 retaliatory duty, which remains in place).