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Red meat exports might be lagging, but the outlook is still bright

Red meat exports for February trended below year ago levels, but the head of the US Meat Export Federation says the 2021 outlook remains strong. 

Dan Halstrom says the US can hardly keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for high-quality grain-fed beef in China. “We set another record with 8,600 tons exported the month of February,” he says.  “That’s compared to 500 tons a year ago.  The supply chain continues to expand with China-eligible cattle and we’re seeing it reflected in the meat export numbers.” He tells Brownfield, they’re also seeing strong demand for US beef in Central America and South Korea.

Halstrom says they’re seeing a solid rebound in demand for US pork in Central America.  “On pork, we were up 37 percent and that’s a shortage on the domestic supply side,” he says.  “Honduras and Guatemala, they’ve had a retraction in sow numbers and are definitely leaning on imports more.  That, combined with the increased food service is a pretty good formula for success.”

He says some logistical challenges, including port congestion and tight labor supplies have also impacted export volumes for certain products.

Beef exports were down 8 percent in volume and 2 percent in value from year-ago levels and pork exports were down 12 percent in volume and down 13 percent in value. 

AUDIO: Dan Halstrom, US Meat Export Federation

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