According to the latest USDA data, compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), exports of US pork reached their highest point since October 2012, at 209,704mt – an increase of 29% in volume and value ($606.7m) compared to March last year.
While porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has been having a significant impact on the US pork sector, exports remained strong in March, despite a 4% drop in overall pork production for the month.
Exports to Mexico increased by 38% in volume to 54,284mt, and 75% in value, while exports to Hong Kong/China increased 49% in volume, 73% to South Korea, and were up 22% to Japan. The increase in volume of sales to Japan was the largest monthly increase since May 2011, and was driven by growth in chilled and ground seasoned pork exports.
Meanwhile, exports of beef rose 12% in volume and 17% in value, to 93,380mt and $516.2m respectively, despite a 5% dip in production over the month.
Mexico increased its intake of US beef by 82% in volume terms, to 19,9495mt, and 94% in value ($90.1m). Hong Kong also significantly increased its imports, up 88% in volume, to 12,224mt. However, volumes to Japan were down 10% on levels in March 2013, when a surge in sales occurred due to the announcement of expanded market access.
Philip Seng, president and chief executive at USMEF, said: "Even with high prices and supply concerns, we are working to keep the visibility of US beef and pork high in our key export markets, and they continue to respond positively.
"Among the many encouraging signs are the continued strength of the Mexican market in both pork and beef, and the rebound of South Korea, which has been an area of focus for USMEF as that market has been challenged over the past year by an over-supply of domestic product."