Pork exports start year strong

Pork exports start year strong

January exports of U.S. pork were steady in volume and increased in value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) on March 8.

January pork exports totaled 203,488 mt, steady with last year’s strong volume, while export value increased 7 percent to $545.6 million. Pork exports accounted for 24.7 percent of total pork production, down from 26.2 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported declined slightly to 21.5 percent. Pork export value averaged $50.93 per head slaughtered, up 1 percent year-over-year.

For muscle cuts only, pork export volume increased 5 percent to 164,189 mt, while value climbed 9 percent to $454.2 million. Pork variety meat exports dropped 16 percent in volume (39,299 mt), but still managed a 2 percent increase in value to $91.5 million.

“January export results were solid overall and were especially strong for muscle cuts,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Despite the decline in variety meat volume, export value continued to increase. This underscores the important contribution variety meats deliver for producers and for everyone in the U.S. supply chain.”

Pork steady to Mexico; strong increases for Japan, Korea, Central America
Building on a record 2017 performance, January pork exports to Mexico increased 1 percent from a year ago in volume (72,997 mt) and 4 percent in value ($133.5 million). Mexico continues to be a mainstay market for U.S. hams and is the second-largest destination (behind China/Hong Kong) for pork variety meat.

Other January highlights for U.S. pork included:

  • Exports to leading value market Japan totaled 35,048 mt (up 11%) valued at $146.4 million (up 17%). Chilled exports were up 15 percent in volume (20,212 mt) and 21 percent in value ($96.8 million).
  • Exports to Korea, which posted impressive gains in 2017, continued to gain momentum in January as volume increased 17 percent to 18,879 mt and value climbed 20 percent to $54.2 million.
  • Led by solid gains in mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala and exceptional growth in El Salvador, pork exports to Central America increased 18 percent in volume (6,179 mt) and 20 percent in value ($14.5 million).
  • Year-over-year increases in both Australia and New Zealand pushed export volume to the Oceania region up 10 percent to 7,613 mt, while export value increased 15 percent to $22.2 million. Pork exports to Oceania are primarily composed of raw material for further processing, with Australia being one of the leading destinations for U.S. hams.
  • Led by strong growth to Vietnam, January export volume to the ASEAN region climbed 16 percent to 3,053 mt and value was up 17 percent to $7.9 million. The strong performance in Vietnam helped offset lower exports to the Philippines, the region’s largest destination for U.S. pork.
  • Reflecting larger domestic production in China and correspondingly lower hog and pork prices, exports to China/Hong Kong fell 16 percent to 31,997 mt, but still achieved a 2 percent increase in value to $77.9 million. For muscle cuts only, exports to China/Hong Kong increased 10 percent in volume (12,827 mt) and 14 percent in value ($25.6 million) from a year ago, but slowed from the fourth quarter pace when shipments gained momentum ahead of the Chinese New Year. Following two big years, January pork variety meat exports to the region were the lowest since 2015.


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