Red-meat exports continued their strong pace through November, with pork up 20% and beef up 9% (including variety meat) compared to November 2007, reports the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

January-November beef exports were up 37% to 582,270 metric tons (mt), or 1.28 billion lbs., with variety meat exports up 18% to 331,479 mt (730.8 million lbs.). Total beef exports of 913,739 mt (2.01 billion lbs.) were up 29% and valued at $3.37 billion, a 40% increase. 2008 beef exports are on pace to reach 94% of the 2003 export value.

For the first 11 months of 2008, pork and pork variety meat exports were 61% larger than 2007, at 1,898,698 mt or 4.18 billion lbs. Meanwhile, 2008 pork exports through 11 months were valued at $4.5 billion, an increase of 59%.

“Global protein supplies remain tight, with the exception of a few situations in key countries where stocks of imported red meat are weighing on the market, specifically in Korea and China,” says Erin Daley, USMEF economist. “As currencies and prices stabilize, inventories will decline and demand for U.S. red meat will likely continue at a relatively strong level. Although pork exports are not expected to maintain the stunning pace of 2008, they are forecast to exceed 2007 volumes,” Daley said.

“The bottom line is that, regardless of the global economic situation, people have to eat,” Daley says. “U.S. beef and pork prices are lower than they were during the summer, which helps offset the increased strength of the U.S. of the dollar.”