U.S. beef exports greatly exceeded previous volume and value records in 2021, surpassing $10 billion for the first time, according to year-end data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. Pork exports finished slightly below the record volume reached in 2020 but set a new value record, topping $8 billion for the first time.
Broad-based growth for U.S. beef exports
December beef exports totaled 121,429 metric tons (mt), up 1% from a year ago, while value climbed 33% to $991.8 million – the third largest month on record. These results pushed 2021 volume to 1.44 million mt, up 15% from a year ago and 7% above the previous record set in 2018. Export value soared to $10.58 billion, up 38% from 2020 and shattering the previous record (also from 2018) by 27%.
Beef exports to Korea, Japan and China/Hong Kong each exceeded $2 billion, setting new volume and value records in Korea and China/Hong Kong and a value record in Japan. Exports also set a new value record in Taiwan and reached new heights in Central America, Colombia and Indonesia. Global exports of U.S. beef variety meat also set a new value record of $1.09 billion, up 24% year-over-year. “The beef export results are truly remarkable, especially considering the COVID-related obstacles in the global foodservice sector and all the supply-side and logistical challenges faced by the U.S. industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Obviously our large Asian markets accounted for much of the growth, but it really takes broad-based global demand to reach these impressive levels. So this success story is not just about Korea, Japan and China – but also a strong performance in Taiwan, excellent growth in Central and South America and a rebound in Mexico and Southeast Asia.”