US remains 'top competitor' in animal products trade – USDA – Agriland

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The US remains a top competitor in the trade of animal products having reached over $36 billion in exports in 2021, according to a study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

These exports represent more than 18% of US agricultural trade. US competitiveness is strong in east Asian, southeast Asian, and north American markets, the USDA said.

Global competitors, however, continue to pose a “challenge” to US export performance across the four major animal commodities, comprising beef, pork, chicken and dairy, the study found.

US exports of beef and dairy

The US has been the “global leader” in beef production with an average annual production of approximately 11.8 million metric tons over the last decade, according to the USDA.

With global beef production at 58.2 million metric tons in 2021, US beef represented about 22% of total global production, according to the study.

US beef exports in 2021 reached over $9.4 billion. Compared to major competitors such as Australia and New Zealand, US beef trade is heavily influenced by high domestic consumption.

In 2021 total US milk and dairy exports were worth over $4.7 billion. The US was the third-largest producer of milk in 2020, producing 15.6% of global milk supply, according to the USDA.

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Total annual US milk production has exceeded 90 million metric tons since 2012 with milk production reaching over 102 million metric tons in 2021, the study found.

Among the major dairy products are butter, cheese, dry skim milk products, and dry whole milk powder, with exports concentrated in east Asia and north America.

Pork and chicken exports

In 2021 the US produced more than 12.5 million metric tons of pork, which was equivalent to 11.7% of total global production. Total US pork exports reached nearly $7 billion in 2021.

As with beef, the primary destinations for US pork included China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and South Korea, accounting for nearly 80% of US pork exports in 2021.

Exports of chicken have exceeded $4.4 billion in 2021, having more than doubled since 2000 despite much volatility including the impacts of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the USDA said.

Major markets for US chicken currently include China, Mexico, and Canada, while the top competitor for chicken exports is Brazil, the study found.

Although the US is a top chicken producer, other countries have higher exports-to-production ratios that have increased over time, reflecting the US focus on the domestic market.