Record Value for Mexico Fuels August Pork Exports

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%.