Besides Russia, countries where beef exports remain challenged include Mexico, South Korea and ASEAN.
Mexico is buying less beef as consumers turn to more affordable proteins like poultry and pork. U.S. poultry exports to Mexico were up 19%. At the same time, South Korea's increased domestic beef production, combined with lower-priced Australian product, has dampened demand for U.S. beef.
Overall, the volume ranking was: Japan, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Total pork exports in May improved over 2013 trends but still dipped 3.3%. They accounted for 23% of muscle cut production and 26.4% of muscle cuts plus variety meat, similar to last May.
May pork exports were led by another strong month for Mexico and Japan. Exports were also larger for Central/South America, ASEAN, the Caribbean and Taiwan.
"The volume of U.S. pork that Mexico consumes is essential for our industry, and that is why we have focused resources on driving up per-capita pork consumption there," Seng explained. "On the other hand, Japan is the leading value market for pork exports, and there we are concentrated on higher value branded and chilled products."
May pork exports to Canada were down 3%. Exports to the China/Hong Kong region dipped 9% in May, and exports to South Korea and Australia/New Zealand were also down.
Overall, Mexico was the largest volume destination for U.S. pork but Japan was No. 1 in value.
Canada and the Philippines were the only top markets that saw export growth in the first five months of the year, but exports were robust to many of the smaller markets. Larger domestic supplies and market access issues have created a challenging atmosphere for U.S. pork exports thus far this year but exports showed positive signs of growth in May.
Lamb exports reached three consecutive months above the 1,200 metric tons per month mark with 1,472 metric tons exported in May, an increase of 70% over last year. This put January through May totals up 14% to 5,840 metric tons with value over $13 million, up 30%. Export growth has been led by top markets Mexico and Canada, but also to Bermuda and Saudi Arabia.