January pork exports pick up where 2016 left off

January pork exports pick up where 2016 left off

January U.S. pork exports were up significantly year-over-year, maintaining the solid momentum established in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) this month.

January pork exports were up 21 percent from a year ago in volume (202,667 mt) and jumped 26 percent in value to $508.6 million. Exports accounted for 26.2 percent of total pork production and 21.7 percent for muscle cuts – up significantly from the respective January 2016 shares of 22.3 percent and 18.8 percent. Pork export value averaged $50.23 per head slaughtered, up 21 percent from a year ago.

“The red meat industry entered 2017 with an optimistic outlook, confident that we can continue our recent strong momentum in the international markets,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The January results certainly validate that feeling, but we understand that significant challenges still lie ahead.”

Mexico continues to shine for U.S. pork
Coming off the fifth consecutive record year for pork export volume to Mexico, the Mexican market shows no signs of letting up. January volume climbed nearly one-third higher than a year ago to 72,406 mt – the third-largest monthly total on record. Export value was up even more dramatically, increasing 50 percent to $128.7 million, as Mexico’s strong buying helped sustain higher U.S. ham prices.

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong were up 17 percent from a year ago in volume (38,012 mt) and 19 percent in value ($76.2 million). U.S. exports to China/Hong Kong peaked last May at 58,000 mt and regained momentum in November and December, averaging 47,000 mt per month, with strong buying ahead of Chinese New Year. China’s hog prices have softened following the holiday, and are down about 5 percent year-over-year.

Japan took 31,597 mt of U.S. pork in January, up 6 percent year-over-year, valued at $125.7 million (up 11 percent). Following a record year in 2016, U.S. chilled pork exports to Japan continued to grow in January, up 12 percent from a year ago to 17,619 mt.

Other January highlights for U.S. pork include:

  • Exports to Korea continued their recent upward trend, climbing 32 percent in volume (16,073 mt) and 48 percent in value ($45.1 million) year-over-year. Korea’s domestic pork prices have exceeded year-ago levels since late December due to a number of factors, including strong demand (especially for pork belly), relatively high domestic beef prices and most recently concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, which impacted domestic beef production.
  • Exports to Central and South America continue to reflect growing demand for U.S. pork, with both volume (14,240 mt) and value ($33.1 million) up nearly 60 percent year-over-year.
  • Australia – a key destination for boneless hams and other raw materials for further processing – maintained its recent strong momentum with volume increasing 26 percent to 6,498 mt and value up 34 percent to $17.9 million.
  • Exports to the Dominican Republic were record-large at 2,746 mt valued at $6.2 million, up 24 percent and 37 percent, respectively, from a year ago.


  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.