Pork exports set volume record in November

Pork exports set volume record in November

Exports of Iowa and U.S. pork set a new volume record in November as the late year rebound in exports continued. Shipments of pork exceeded year-ago levels by more than 20 percent in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) on Jan. 9.

November pork exports totaled 225,757 metric tons (mt), up 24 percent year-over-year and breaking the previous record (218,132 mt) set in October 2012. Export value was $586.8 million, up 30 percent from a year ago and the highest since May 2014. For January through November, pork export volume was up 7 percent from a year ago to 2.09 million mt, while export value increased 5 percent to $5.38 billion.

Even with U.S. pork production reaching record levels, exports are accounting for a larger share. November export volume equated to 28 percent of total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – substantial increases over the November 2015 ratios of 24 percent and 21 percent. For January through November, exports accounted for 25.5 percent of total production and 21.4 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.9 percent, respectively, in 2015. November export value averaged $55.09 per head slaughtered, up 19 percent year-over-year. The Jan.-Nov. average was $49.63 per head, up 2 percent.

Mexico a powerful pacesetter, but positive results across the board for U.S. pork
Demand for U.S. pork gained further momentum in Mexico in November, where a fifth consecutive record year for export volume is now within reach. November exports totaled 73,984 mt, up 21 percent year-over-year and pushing Jan.-Nov. volume (649,992 mt) nearly even with the record pace of 2015. Export value was up 32 percent in November ($139.2 million) and Jan.-Nov. export value increased 4 percent to $1.19 billion.

Though still lower year-over-year, pork exports to leading value market Japan continued to strengthen in November, increasing 24 percent from a year ago in volume (37,317 mt) and 35 percent in value ($153.4 million, the highest since April 2015). Through November, export volume to Japan was down 5 percent to 357,808 mt, while export value ($1.44 billion) pulled within 1 percent of the previous year’s pace. 2016 will be a record year for chilled pork exports to Japan, which were up 10 percent through November to 201,828 mt.

Other highlights for U.S. pork include:

  • While pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong continue to moderate, pork variety meat demand remains very strong. In November, pork variety meat exports to the region increased more than 90 percent in volume (32,398 mt) from a year ago and more than doubled in value ($69.9 million). Through November, pork variety meat exports were up 60 percent in volume (281,273 mt) and 51 percent in value ($569 million), while combined pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 497,701 mt (up 63%) valued at $978.9 million (up 55%).
  • Pork exports to Central and South America increased 7 percent in volume through November to 120,502 mt, valued at $297.4 million (up 5%). Year-over-year increases were achieved in all seven Central American countries, led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala, as well as in Chile. After a difficult first half, exports to Colombia have rebounded significantly in the past four months and are now just below their 2015 pace.
  • Jan.-Nov. exports to Canada were up 2 percent from a year ago in both volume (186,724 mt) and value ($731 million). This included a 13 percent increase in pork variety meat volume (12,451 mt), valued at $17.8 million (up 5%).
  • Larger exports to both Australia and New Zealand pushed Jan.-Nov. exports to the Oceania region up 9 percent year-over-year in volume (63,653 mt) and 2 percent higher in value ($179.6 million).


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