Spurred on by record production, U.S. pork exports completed a tremendous first quarter with new March records for both volume and value. 

Data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation says beef exports also trended higher year-over-year in March, establishing a record first-quarter pace. 

“March export results were very solid, especially given the COVID-19 related challenges facing customers in many international markets right now,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. 

“Stay-at-home orders created enormous challenges for many countries’ foodservice sectors, several of the world’s key currencies slumped against the dollar, and logistical obstacles surfaced in some key markets. However, demand for U.S. red meat proved very resilient.” 

Recent events like temporary plant closures aren’t reflected in the first-quarter export data. 

Pork exports, driven by strong demand from China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Japan, and Canada, totaled well over 291,000 metric tons, a 38 percent increase from last year. 

The export value was up to more than $764 million. 

March beef exports were over 115,300 metric tons, seven percent more than last year, while the value was more than $702 million, four percent higher than 2019.