American cattle and hog producers are sending meat overseas at a record rate in 2021 after strong third-quarter returns charted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

According to USDA data analyzed by USMEF, beef export value in September was nearly 60% higher month-over-month than in 2020; the figure represents one of the strongest months on record. Pork export value also increased, albeit by a slimmer 8%, as export volume was slightly below September 2020 figures.

“Facing significant logistical headwinds and higher costs, these outstanding results are really a testament to the loyalty and strong demand from our international customers and to the innovation and determination of the U.S. industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom.

Japan continues to be a strong market for U.S. beef and has taken about 5% more product from January-September this year — about 246,380 metric tons — and paid 17% more for it — $1.72 billion. According to USMEF, Japan, South Korea, and the combined China and Hong Kong markets are all on track to top $2 billion in 2021. 

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

For pork, Mexico is set to take a record amount of volume and value; through September, exports are up 27% and have taken in $1.24 billion, an increase of 57%. Other Central American countries are also upping their purchases, which have nearly doubled — up 97% to $30.9 billion.

USMEF did note a significant decline in pork exports to China/Hong Kong and called the drop “anticipated.” The country is currently in recovery from a massive outbreak of African Swine Fever which resulted in the loss of a good deal of its domestic hog herd. 

For more news, go to