U.S. beef and pork exports continued to rebound from the slump earlier in the year, with pork exports reaching their highest level of 2009 in November while beef exports edged 4% above year-ago levels, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

November’s total beef exports reached 76,693 metric tons (mt), (169 million lbs.), with muscle cuts enjoying a 23% hike over year-ago levels while variety meat slipped 27%.

While the export increase is a positive sign that economic indicators around the globe are pointing up, total beef and pork exports remain behind 2008 levels. For the first 11 months of 2009, the U.S. exported 819,778 mt (1.8 billion lbs.) of beef valued at more than $2.8 billion and 1.7 million mt (3.7 billion lbs) of pork valued at nearly $4 billion.

Beef is down 10% in volume and 16% in value compared with 2008, while pork is down 10% in volume and 13% in value.

The top markets for U.S. beef (muscle cuts plus variety meat) through the first 11 months of 2009 based on volume continue to be Mexico, followed by Canada, the Middle East, Japan and the ASEAN (primarily Vietnam). When measured in value, Mexico remains the leader, followed by Canada, Japan, South Korea and the ASEAN.

Negative publicity surrounding beef trade with Taiwan may have impacted that market’s performance, as beef exports declined in November when compared with the previous month. However, November beef exports to Taiwan still exceeded year-ago levels by about 3% in volume and more than 16% in value.

Beef exports to Mexico continue to slump as that country remains plagued by the lingering economic downturn. Total U.S. beef exports year-to-date are down 27% in volume and 35% in value. The downturn in this one key market alone accounts for 98.2% in the decline in beef export volume compared with 2008 and 82.7% of the decline in the value of exports versus last year.

Exports to Canada also have declined this year – down 27% in volume and 12% in value.

The most significant gains in U.S. beef exports have come from Japan (up 23% each in volume and value), the ASEAN (up 21% in volume and 20% in value) and the greater Hong Kong/China region (up 139% in volume and 97% in value).

See complete stats at www.usmef.org/TradeLibrary/Statistics.asp
-- U.S. MEF release