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Record Value for Mexico Fuels August Pork Exports; Modest Rebound for Beef

Published: Oct 06, 2023

August exports of U.S. pork were steady year-over-year, led by another tremendous performance in Mexico, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports were well below the large totals posted in August 2022 but showed improvement over July results. 

August pork exports totaled 226,519 metric tons (mt), steady with last year, while export value fell 1.5% to $649.5 million. Through the first eight months of 2023, pork exports were 11% above last year’s pace at 1.91 million mt, valued at $5.32 billion (up 9%).

“I cannot say enough about Mexico’s remarkable demand for U.S. pork and the critical revenue these exports drive for the U.S. industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “But the story of this year’s export growth extends well beyond Mexico, as demand is climbing in other Western Hemisphere destinations and the U.S. industry is also achieving gains in several Asia-Pacific markets.” 

August beef exports totaled 109,000 mt, down 19% from last year – when export volume was the second highest on record – but a 6% increase over July. Export value was $883.9 million, down 15% year-over-year but 9% above July. For January through August, beef exports trailed last year’s record pace by 12% in volume (881,343 mt) and 19% in value ($6.69 billion). 

“Beef exports certainly face significant headwinds, especially in our large Asian markets where foodservice has been slow to recover and consumer confidence is low due to the impact of rising prices and the strong U.S. dollar,” Halstrom explained. “But exports to South Korea and Japan did bounce back to some degree after a difficult July. Mexico continues to be a major bright spot for U.S. beef, and exports to other Western Hemisphere partners in Central and South America and the Dominican Republic also gained momentum in August.”

August pork export highlights led by value record in Mexico

Pork exports to Mexico continued to drive toward a new annual record in August. Volume increased 12.5% year-over-year to 91,297 mt, while export value was up 9% to a record-high $211.7 million. Through August, exports to Mexico topped last year’s record pace by 14%, reaching 705,312 mt, while export value climbed 18% to $1.47 billion. This includes a sharp increase in pork variety meat exports, which soared by 45% in volume (104,580 mt) and 43% in value ($189.6 million).

Demand for U.S. pork also trended higher in the Dominican Republic, where August exports increased 26% from a year ago to 6,215 mt, valued at $17.9 million (up 28%). Through August, exports to the DR are on a record pace at 66,733 mt, up 26% from a year ago, valued at $181.3 million (up 34%). U.S. pork faces increasing competition in the DR from the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and a few pork establishments in Brazil. However, the U.S. holds the advantage of zero-duty access through CAFTA-DR and remains the market’s dominant supplier with 94% market share.  

August pork exports to Central America increased 16.5% from a year ago to 8,726 mt, while value climbed 23% to $26 million. Through August, exports to the region increased 7% year-over-year to 79,554 mt, valued at $229.2 million (up 13%). Export growth was led by Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Shipments to leading market Honduras increased only slightly in volume (30,342 mt, up 1%) but posted a 17% increase in value ($76.5 million). 

Other January-August results for U.S. pork exports include: 

  • Pork exports to Japan trended higher in August, increasing 5% from a year ago to 28,418 mt. Export value was up 11% to $119.2 million. January-August exports still trailed last year’s pace by 2% in volume (241,044 mt) and 4% in value ($975.4 million). 

  • Taiwan’s demand for U.S. pork has rebounded dramatically in 2023, following two years in which the U.S. was nearly absent from the market. August exports were 1,371 mt, lower than in recent months but still more than double the minimal year-ago volume. Export value was $4.1 million, up 293% from a year ago. Through August, pork exports to Taiwan soared 429% to 14,039 mt, valued at $45.4 million (up 575%). In just eight months, exports have already exceeded the combined, full-year totals from 2021 and 2022, and are on track to end the year close to 2020 volume. 

  • U.S. pork has also made an impressive rebound in Oceania, with export volume posting strong growth to Australia and more than doubling to New Zealand. Through August, exports to the region increased 83% year-over-year to 52,132 mt, valued at $182.7 million (up 70%). U.S. share of Australia’s imports rebounded from 19% to 39%, and in New Zealand from 8% to 16.5%, as these countries’ buyers shifted away from the EU and back to U.S. pork. 

  • Pork exports to South Korea took a step back in August but January-August exports were still 4% above last year’s pace at 125,205 mt, while export value fell 4% to $408 million. U.S. pork has regained market share in Korea this year (moving from 27% to 32%) relative to European pork (dropping from 55% to 44%). But the U.S. faces heightened competition from Canadian (10% to 13% market share), Brazilian (1% to 1.5%) and Mexican (1% to 2%) pork, which have benefited from temporary duty-free quotas. U.S. pork enjoys duty-free access under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. 

  • Despite trending lower in August, pork exports to China/Hong Kong remained 9% above last year’s pace at 353,240 mt, valued at $900.5 million (up 6%). This region is the dominant destination for U.S. pork variety meat, but the decline in August demand was partially offset by larger variety meat exports to Mexico, the Philippines, Canada and the Caribbean. 

  • August pork export value equated to $58.39 per head slaughtered, down 3% from a year ago. The January-August average was $63.32 per head, up 7%. Exports accounted for 27.4% of total August pork production, up slightly from a year ago, while the ratio of muscle cuts exported increased about one percentage point to 23.4%. For January through August, exports accounted for 29.6% of total production and 25.3% for muscle cuts, up significantly from the respective 2022 ratios of 26.9% and 23.5%.

August beef exports below last year, but demand robust in Latin America

U.S. beef exports to Mexico continued to trend higher in August, with shipments increasing 16% from a year ago to 18,674 mt. Export value increased even more dramatically, climbing 35% to $110.9 million – the highest since December 2020. Through August, beef exports to Mexico were 17% above last year at 136,508 mt, valued at $773.5 million (up 25%).

Beef exports to Guatemala were the second highest on record in August (1,038 mt, including nearly 1,000 mt of muscle cuts), propelling shipments to Central America to 1,774 mt, an increase of 42% from a year ago. Export value reached $12.1 million, up 33%. Through August, exports to the region were down 4% in volume (13,261 mt) and 6% in value ($91.5 million), but exports trended higher to Guatemala and increased sharply to Honduras and Nicaragua. 

Beef exports to the Dominican Republic trended higher in August at 883 mt, up 6%, while value increased 28% to $11.7 million. Through August, exports to the DR were up 6% to 6,527 mt, while value climbed 12% to $73.2 million. With shipments also increasing to the Bahamas and the Netherlands Antilles, January-August exports to the Caribbean increased 5% in value to $170.9 million, despite a 6% decline in volume (18,140 mt). 

Other January-August results for U.S. beef exports include: 

  • Although August beef exports to Taiwan were down 7% from a year ago to 5,611 mt, export value was steady at $65.4 million. Following a slow start to the year, exports to Taiwan rallied in the summer months to pull within 7% of last year’s record volume at 44,701 mt. January-August export value was down 21% to $445.2 million. 

  • August beef exports to Japan were well below last year’s large totals but showed improvement compared to July. Exports reached 21,106 mt, down 19% from a year ago, valued at $174.1 million (down 8%). Through August, exports to Japan were down 20% in volume (169,500 mt) and 25% in value ($1.25 billion). The yen has been struggling versus the U.S. dollar for some time, and this situation worsened recently as the yen slipped back to its October 2022 low (150 per dollar). This, along with rising treasury yields in the U.S., heightened speculation that the Bank of Japan will tighten its monetary policy in an effort to strengthen the yen.   

  • While beef exports to South Korea are below last year’s record pace, Korea remains the leading value market for U.S. beef and is slightly ahead of Japan as the No. 1 volume market. Through August, exports to Korea totaled 170,835 mt, down 14% from a year ago, while value slipped 27% to $1.41 billion. Increased demand for beef variety meat has been a bright spot, however, as variety meat exports to Korea increased 68% in volume (10,238 mt) and 73% in value ($54.6 million) compared to the same period last year. 

  • August beef exports to China/Hong Kong fell sharply from the record-large totals posted in August 2022. Shipments were down 38% in both volume (18,987 mt) and value ($168.2 million). Through August, exports to the region were down 19% to 156,860 mt, valued at $1.37 billion (down 23%). On a positive note, exports to Hong Kong increased 19% to 25,938 mt, valued at $264 million (up 3%). 

  • Beef exports to Africa, nearly all of which are beef variety meat, posted another strong month in August, climbing 25% from a year ago to 1,424 mt. Export value increased 24% to $2.5 million. Led by a doubling of exports to South Africa and strong growth in Cote D’Ivoire, January-August exports to Africa climbed 62% to 15,623 mt, valued at $18.6 million (up 29%). 

  • Variety meat also accounts for a large share (nearly 80%) of U.S. beef exports to Peru, where August shipments were steady with last year at 724 mt. Through August, beef and beef variety meat exports to Peru increased 31% from a year ago to 5,219 mt, while value was up 11% to $21.6 million. Led by growth in Colombia and Chile, August beef exports to South America were the largest since June 2022, up 4% year-over-year to 2,243 mt, while export value increased 7% to $11.6 million. January-August exports to the region were still sharply lower than last year (14,043 mt, -23%; $76 million, -30%). 

  • August beef export value equated to $395.81 per head of fed slaughter, down 10% from the very high average posted a year ago. The January-August average was $395.71, down 16%. Exports accounted for 13.4% of total August beef production and 11.3% for muscle cuts – each down about two percentage points from the high year-ago ratios. January-August exports accounted for 14.3% of total production and 12% for muscle cuts, down from 15.5% and 13.3%, respectively, last year. 

August lamb exports trend lower

Despite an increase in exports to the Caribbean, August exports of U.S. lamb muscle cuts fell 14% from a year ago to 107 mt – the lowest volume this year. Export value was down 18% to $678,000. Through August, lamb muscle cut exports were down 3% to 1,371 mt, valued at just under $8 million (down 7%). January-August exports increased to the Netherlands Antilles, Panama and Canada but were lower to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. Shipments to Mexico were up slightly in volume but value trended lower.

Complete January-August 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.

  • As noted the past several months, USMEF has raised concerns in recent years with USDA about export data collected by the Department of Commerce for lamb variety meat to Mexico. Reported volumes have declined dramatically since July, suggesting that the data reported in prior months and years were disproportionately high. USMEF is therefore focusing year-over-year comparisons on lamb muscle cuts only.

  • 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).