U.S. pork exports continued their rebound in November, reaching their highest levels of 2009, while beef exports also rose above year ago levels, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

For the month, total pork (muscle cuts plus variety meat) exports reached 373.8 million pounds, basically even with the volume for November during the record-breaking pace of 2008. The results for November marked the first time monthly pork exports have reached or exceeded 2008 levels since March 2009.

During the first 11 months of 2009, the United States exported 3.7 billion pounds of pork worth nearly $4 billion, down 10% in volume and 13% in value from 2008 statistics.

“We are devoting significant resources to pork marketing this quarter with the support of $1.35 million in additional funding from the soybean industry at the end of 2009,” reports Phillip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “The response from the soybean industry to support pork exports is very gratifying,” he says, referring to the 2009 Pork Stimulus Package funded by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, United Soybean Board, Nebraska Soybean Board and the South Dakota Research and Promotion Council.

Those funds, combined with matching funds from the Market Access Program, the Foreign Market Development program, third-party contributions and other non-checkoff funds have enabled USMEF to develop a pool of more than $4 million for a concerted pork marketing push in Japan, Mexico and South Korea.

Mexico retains its lead in volume of U.S. pork exported, purchasing 995.3 million pounds valued at more than $672 million through November 2009, a 30% increase in volume and 9% boost in value over last year.

Japan is still the leader in value for U.S. pork, importing 746.5 million pounds worth more than $1.4 billion, a 7% drop in volume and a 1% drop in value compared to last year.

China and Russia both imposed barriers to U.S. pork exports due to concerns over the novel H1N1 virus, and were the biggest contributors to the decline in U.S. pork exports last year. Pork exports to the greater Hong Kong/China region are down 39% in volume and 42% in value, while exports to Russia are down 38% in volume and 41% in value.

The best gains in U.S. pork exports were reported for Mexico, the Philippines (38% increase in volume and 32% in value), Taiwan (38% in volume and 28% in value) and the Caribbean (21% in volume and 13% in value).

For complete trade statistics, go to www.USMEF.org.