The U.S. exported about $49.2 billion worth of ag commodities in the first quarter of 2022, a record for shipments in the first three months of a year and setting the pace for what could be an annual record, according to new data from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The data shows U.S. ag exports for the first three months of the year are worth roughly $4.6 billion more than in the first quarter of 2021, which set a record for U.S. overseas sales at $177 billion for the entire year. But due to strong exports and even stronger export values, the U.S. is on pace to surpass that.

U.S. soybean and corn exports are both stronger this past quarter — thanks in large part to strong sales to China — than the first quarter in 2021, but U.S. meat exports were especially strong from January through March, according to data from FAS and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

“Global demand for U.S. beef has eclipsed anything I have seen in many years in the meat business,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “While this momentum is fueled by mainstay markets such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, demand is also very strong in China (and) Hong Kong and key Latin American markets, while exports to the Middle East have rebounded impressively.”

According to USMEF, the U.S. exported 353,852 metric tons of beef worth more than $3 billion in the first quarter of 2022. That volume is a 6% increase from the same time period last year. But the value of the exported meat is experiencing a 41% increase over the first quarter of 2022. 

The U.S. saw beef exports to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan surge dramatically in the first quarter. China and Hong Kong together imported 62,237 tons of U.S. beef, valued at $582.4 million. That’s a 36% increase in volume and a 59% increase in value over the first quarter of 2021. The U.S. exported $227.2 million worth of beef to Taiwan — a 92% increase from the first three months of last year.

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