In 2008, pork had its 17th consecutive record-setting year of increased export numbers, according to statistics just released from USDA. In 2008, pork export volumes were up 57 percent to more than 2 million metric tons (4.5 billion pounds) and the value was up 55 percent to nearly $4.9 billion.

Total U.S. beef exports for the calendar year rose 28 percent to 984,712 metric tons (nearly 2.2 billion pounds) while values jumped 38 percent to $3.6 billion.

In 2008, the value of lamb and mutton exports (plus variety meat) rose 44 percent to $25.3 million even as volume dropped 17 percent to 7,867 metric tons (17.3 million pounds).

The United States has regained 87 percent of the value and 74 percent of the volume of the market lost after the first diagnosis of BSE in the U.S. in December 2003.