The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports that U.S. pork and beef exports slowed slightly in April when compared to the all-time record highs of the previous month, but still performed well above last year's pace. April pork exports exceeded 181,000 metric tons valued at $487.8 million. That's up 16% in volume and 22% in value over last year. April beef exports exceeded 103,000 metric tons valued at $429.7 million. That's an increase of 25% and 38%, respectively.
On a cumulative basis through April, 2011 pork exports were 18% ahead of last year's pace in volume and 24% higher in value. Beef exports were up 30% in volume and 48% in value. Japan remains the leading value market for U.S. pork with year-to-date exports up 17% in both volume at 163,775 metric tons and value of $616.5 million. These increases are particularly impressive considering last year's full-year export value record to Japan of more than $1.65 billion.
USMEF reports that beef exports to South Korea continued to grow dramatically in the first four months of 2011, increasing more than 150% over 2010 valued at $283.9 million. Korea made a strong push to become the leading value market for U.S. beef, and now trails only Mexico. U.S. exports to Mexico are up 7% in volume and 27% in value over last year. Canada remains in third place in both volume and value.
"With our production cost running so high right now, these strong export numbers could not come at a better time for producers," said USMEF Chairman Keith Miller, a farmer-stockman from Great Bend, Kan. "I am convinced there is just no way we could be profitable without the outstanding premiums we're receiving in the international marketplace."
As for lamb exports, USMEF reports that lamb exports achieved exceptional growth in April, more than doubling over April 2010 in volume and climbing 65% in value to $3.5 million. For the year, exports were up nearly 40% in volume. This trend was driven by strong value growth in the Caribbean and Canada.