U.S. Beef and Pork Exports Topple Previous Records

Pig resting head

It’s another record year for U.S. meat exports.

Despite high input costs and a lurching international economy, U.S. pork and beef exports broke records set in 2011.

This is good news for soybean farmers since animal agriculture is U.S. soy meal’s biggest customer. Feeding animals soy in the United States and shipping out value-added products like meat increases the demand for soy while supporting the U.S. animal ag industry.

Because of its importance to the strength of the U.S. soy industry, the checkoff has made supporting animal agriculture a top priority. The checkoff works with organizations like the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council to promote the consumption of U.S. meat abroad. For example, the checkoff recently worked with USMEF to help increase consumption of pork back ribs in Japan.

“Because of the program, consumption of that single cut of pork went from zero to 4.5 million pounds over the last three years,” says John Butler, a checkoff farmer-leader from Dyersburg, Tenn.

Last year, pork exports set new volume and value records. The United States shipped 2.3 million metric tons, valued at $6.3 billion, to foreign markets, including Japan and Mexico. U.S. hogs consume 7.8 million metric tons of U.S. soy meal usage each year, according to the most recent statistics. That’s the meal from 363 million bushels of soybeans.

Though beef exports dipped slightly in volume, the total value increased two percent to reach a record $5.51 billion. Each year, beef cattle consume about 1.7 million metric tons of soy meal, or the meal from 80.6 million bushels of soybeans.

“The slight drop in the volume of beef exports could be because beef is just more expensive this year,” Butler says.

Industry experts anticipate U.S. pork and beef exports will remain strong through 2013. Trade issues with Russia and growing domestic pork production in China will remain challenges. But, increasing Mexican demand for pork and Japanese demand for beef could help mitigate any losses.