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.
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%. ■