Another Record Month for Pork Exports to Mexico; Beef Exports Show Modest Rebound

U.S. pork exports posted another strong performance in October, led by record-large shipments to Mexico and broad-based growth elsewhere, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). October beef exports remained well below last year’s large totals but improved from September, led by stronger demand in Mexico and Taiwan.

October pork exports totaled 245,345 metric tons (mt), up 3% year-over-year and the largest since June, valued at $688.2 million – down 2% from a year ago. For the first 10 months of 2023, pork exports increased 9% from a year ago to 2.38 million mt, with value up 6% to $6.66 billion.

“At a time when the U.S. pork industry needs to maximize revenue, I run out of superlatives when talking about the remarkable demand we are seeing in Mexico,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Pork exports are also achieving excellent growth across the Western Hemisphere and retaking market share in the Asia-Pacific.”

Beef exports totaled 104,446 mt in October, down 17% from a year ago but 6% above the low volume posted in September. Export value was $836 million, down 11% year-over-year but 5% higher than September. January-October exports of U.S. beef reached 1.08 million mt, down 13% from the record pace of 2022, while value fell 17% to $8.32 billion.

“On the beef side, economic headwinds in our largest Asian markets continue to weigh on demand, as consumers trade down to lower-priced proteins,” Halstrom said. “The recovery in Asia’s foodservice sector has been limited, but we remain hopeful that it will accelerate in 2024. Recent efforts to jump-start economic activity in these countries and address weakened currencies could also improve the business climate.”

Monster year continues for pork to Mexico; strong October rebound in Colombia

Pork exports to leading market Mexico reached a record 100,867 mt, soaring 19% from a year ago, while value climbed 9% to a record $221.1 million. January-October shipments to Mexico increased 13% over last year’s record pace to 895,221 mt, with value up 16% to $1.9 billion. Pork muscle cut exports to Mexico were record-large in October at nearly 87,000 mt, which equated to 10.7% of U.S. production. Through October, pork muscle cut exports were up 11% from last year’s record pace at 763,159 mt. Variety meat exports accelerated at an even faster pace – climbing 29% to 132,062 mt, valued at $248.6 million (up 38%), led by larger shipments of chilled variety meats and frozen stomachs.

October pork exports to Colombia totaled 10,856 mt, up 35% from a year ago and the largest since June 2022. Export value climbed 42% to $30.4 million, the highest since November 2021 and third highest on record. While January-October exports to Colombia remained 11% below last year at 76,402 mt, export value edged 1% higher to $207.9 million.

Led by record shipments to Guatemala and robust growth in Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador, pork exports to Central America continued to gain momentum in October, soaring 35% from a year ago in volume (13,722 mt) and 37% in value ($42.2 million). January-October exports to the region were 12% higher at 102,783 mt, while value increased 18% to $301 million.

Other January-October results for U.S. pork exports include:

  • October exports to South Korea totaled 13,427 mt, up 6% from a year ago and the largest since June, while value was up 5% to $46.8 million. Through the first 10 months of the year, exports to Korea increased 3% to 149,943 mt, though value fell 4% to $493.7 million. U.S. pork has recently faced increased competition from Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian pork entering Korea under zero-duty tariff rate quotas (U.S. pork is duty-free under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement), but the U.S. industry continues to capitalize on growth opportunities in the home meal replacement and restaurant meal replacement sectors.
  • Pork exports to the Dominican Republic are on a record pace in 2023, climbing 23% through October to 81,050 mt, with value up 27% to $223.2 million. October shipments to the Dominican Republic totaled 8,532 mt, the highest since April.  Brazil recently gained access to the market and reported exports totaled 325 mt in October and 1,841 mt in November. With exports also rebounding strongly to Trinidad and Tobago and increasing to the Netherlands Antilles and Leeward-Windward Islands, shipments to the Caribbean region jumped 22% to 98,264 mt, valued at $283.3 million (up 25%).
  • With pork shipments increasing sharply to Australia and more than doubling to New Zealand, January-October exports to Oceania increased 82% to 63,607 mt, valued at $224.5 million (up 66%). While most exports to this region are raw material used for further processing, valued-added processed products from the U.S. are also popular in the retail and foodservice sectors.
  • Pork exports to Japan are trending lower in 2023, including a 15% decline in October to 24,080 mt. For January through October, exports to Japan fell 6% from a year ago to 288,447 mt, valued at $1.17 billion (down 7%).
  • While pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong are also trending lower (down 9% through October to 149,144 mt), pork variety meat exports to the region remain 4% above last year’s record pace at 280,682 mt, valued at $720.4 million (up 6%).
  • In addition to the above-mentioned growth in Mexico and China/Hong Kong, pork variety meat exports have also accelerated to the Philippines, Vietnam, Chile, Peru, the Caribbean and Taiwan. Global exports of U.S. pork variety meat are on a record pace through October, increasing 12% year-over-year to 487,171 mt, valued at $1.15 billion (up 10%).
  • Pork export value equated to $60.21 per head slaughtered in October, down 6% from a year ago, but the January-October average was 4% higher at $62.79. Exports accounted for 28.2% of total October pork production – down slightly from a year ago – and 24.3% for muscle cuts only, up about one percentage point. The January-October ratios were 29.3% of total production and 25.1% for muscle cuts, up from 27.2% and 23.5%, respectively, a year ago.

Bright spots for October beef exports include Mexico, Taiwan, Central America

A vibrant foodservice sector and a strong peso have combined to provide excellent momentum for U.S. beef exports to Mexico. While Mexico remains a preferred destination for underutilized cuts from the round, cuts from the chuck and rib complex are also achieving heightened demand in Mexico, where October exports increased 13% from a year ago to 18,456 mt, while value climbed 27% to $108.4 million. January-October exports to Mexico increased 15% to 171,399 mt, valued at $975.8 million – up an impressive 25%.

After a slow start to the year, Taiwan’s demand for U.S. beef fared better in the second and third quarters, and October exports totaled 4,923 mt, up 10% from a year ago, while value increased 17% to $54.6 million. This performance pushed January-October volume to Taiwan to 53,004 mt, down 6% from last year’s record pace, while value was down 17% to $539.5 million. The United States continues to be the dominant supplier of chilled beef to Taiwan, capturing 76% of the chilled import market.

Led by record shipments to Costa Rica and growth in Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua, October beef exports to Central America climbed 23% from a year ago to 2,047 mt, while value soared 42% to $14.9 million – the highest in nearly two years. January-October shipments to the region moved 1% ahead of last year’s pace at 17,087 mt, with value increasing 3% to $120.4 million. Although October exports to leading market Guatemala were below last year, January-October shipments still increased 8% from last year’s record pace to 7,634 mt, valued at $59.4 million.

Other January-October results for U.S. beef exports include:

  • October beef export volume to the Caribbean was down slightly year-over-year at 2,094 mt, but export value still increased 16% to $18.9 million. January-October exports to the region dipped 6% to 22,303 mt, while value increased 5% to $207.3 million, with exports trending higher in both volume and value to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the Netherlands Antilles.
  • Beef exports to Africa, which are almost entirely variety meat, nearly doubled year-over-year in October, increasing 93% to 1,165 mt, while value jumped 69% to $2 million. Led by growth throughout the year in South Africa and Cote D’Ivoire and an October bump from Gabon, January-October shipments to Africa increased 58% to 18,143 mt, valued at $22.5 million (up 28%).
  • Europe’s demand for U.S. beef gained momentum in October, with combined export volume to the European Union and United Kingdom up 15% from a year ago to 1,653 mt, while value jumped 67% to $26.7 million. January-October shipments to the region increased 7% to 17,923 mt, while value was 15% higher at $247.4 million.
  • With Hong Kong’s tourism and business travel sectors recovering to some degree, beef exports have trended higher in 2023. Through October, shipments to Hong Kong increased 14% from a year ago to 32,991 mt, valued at $343.9 million (up 4%).
  • While the positive results detailed above have offset some of the decline following the 2021-22 surge in U.S. beef’s largest Asian destinations – South Korea, Japan and China – the slowdown in demand in these markets continued in October. Through the first 10 months of the year, exports to Japan fell 22% to 205,381 mt, valued at $1.52 billion (down 25%). Exports to Korea were down 16% to 207,344 mt, valued at $1.75 billion (down 25%), while exports to China fell 25% in volume (160,773 mt) and 28% in value ($13.6 billion).
  • Beef export value equated to $389.90 per head of fed slaughter in October, down 9% from a year ago. The January-October average was $395.40, down 14%. Exports accounted for 13% of total October beef production and 10.7% for muscle cuts only, each down about 2.5 percentage points from a year ago. The January-October ratios were 14.1% of total production and 11.8% for muscle cuts, down from 15.4% and 13.2%, respectively, in the first 10 months of 2022.

Lamb exports trend lower in October

While achieving growth in Central America, October exports of U.S. lamb trended lower overall, falling 47% from a year ago in volume (182 mt) and 28% in value ($1.13 million). Through the first 10 months of the year, lamb exports fell 11% to 2,054 mt, while value declined 12% to $10.7 million. Exports increased to Central America (driven by growth in Costa Rica and Guatemala), Japan and the Middle East, but these results were offset by lower shipments to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada.

Complete January-October export results for U.S. pork, beef and lamb are available from USMEF’s statistics web page.

For questions, please contact Joe Schuele or call 303-547-0030.


  • Export statistics refer to both muscle cuts and variety meat, unless otherwise noted.
  • One metric ton (mt) = 2,204.622 pounds.
  • U.S. pork and beef currently face retaliatory duties in China. In February 2020, China announced a duty exclusion process that allows importers to apply for relief from duties imposed in response to U.S. Section 301 duties. When an application is successful, the rate for U.S. beef can decline to the MFN rate of 12% and the rate for U.S. pork can decline to 37% (the MFN rate plus the 25% Section 232 retaliatory duty, which remains in place).