November was another strong month for U.S. beef and pork exports. Dan Halstrom is president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. He says the November report continues a strong 2021 for beef and pork exports.
“In general, the momentum that was there earlier, like the last three or four months, is still there, especially on beef. We exported 123,000 tons of beef in November, which is up 7 percent from a year ago, and really, it’s broad based growth; It’s not any one market. These are the same themes we’ve seen the last three or four months. We have significant growth in Japan, in Korea, in China, Central America, and South America, the almost exact duplicate of what we’re talking about last month. The other thing of note was at the value side of things. We were a little over $1 billion in sales again in the month of November. We are on pace for easily a record on beef.”
He expects beef exports to top ten billion dollars globally in 2021, by far the highest total ever. The value per head in November was $480 a head, up 42 percent or $142 higher than last year.
While November pork exports were lower, the numbers were still strong. “We were at 238,000 metric tons, which is down 8 percent, but that’s mainly because of China. We all know that China’s down as they’ve tried to repopulate their herds. We’re down about 15 percent year-on-year. Year to date, we’re down 25 percent, which was about where we were estimating for the year. But the good news and all this is that, down only 8 percent, we pretty much offset that down in China with all the ups in of a bunch of the other markets: Mexico, for the month of November, 87,000 tons, up 34 percent; Korea was up 24 percent at almost 14,000 tons.”
The biggest increase in pork exports took place in Colombia, which almost doubled its purchases from the previous year. Looking back at 2021, he says exports consistently put up good numbers every month.
“It’s been kind of consistent, really, for the whole year. I think the moral of the story is that despite the pandemic, demand is booming, absolutely booming. Sure, food service, especially on beef, is down a bit in some of these key markets because of COVID restrictions, which we still have plenty of them in Asia. But the retail as you can imagine, is booming. People are eating at home more, they want nice experience, so they’re willing to pay for high quality U.S. beef and pork.”
He says base demand for U.S. beef and pork overseas will remain strong in 2022.
“I don’t see that necessarily changing anything. The only thing I do see changing a bit is the cycle of our production is probably going to be a little bit lower on beef and pork production which, by definition, means less to export. But just looking at the demand side, demand is strong, demand is solid, and it’s broad-based. If it’s just one country somewhere, you’d wonder. On both beef and pork, demand has been pretty solid through a broad spectrum of the world.”