If the trend established in the first six months of the year holds up, U.S. beef and pork exports are likely to set several new records in 2011 and each could eclipse the $5 billion mark for the first time ever.

According to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), June beef exports achieved the second-highest value ever at $461.8 million. This was 23 percent higher than June 2010, and has been surpassed only once — by the March 2011 value total of $475.2 million.

In terms of volume, June beef exports reached 111,362 metric tons — an increase of 15 percent over June 2010. This brought the cumulative 2011 total to 620,851 metric tons valued at $2.55 billion, which was 25 percent higher in volume and 40 percent higher in value than last year’s pace.

For the first half of this year, beef exports equated to 13.8 percent of total production with an export value of $192.42 per head of fed slaughter. The United States has also recaptured its position as the world’s leading beef exporter, outpacing Australia and Brazil.

June pork exports were slightly higher in volume (165,786 metric tons) than last year and 6 percent higher in value ($451.2 million). This pushed first-half pork exports to 1.08 million metric tons valued at $2.81 billion — year-over-year increases of 14 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

When compared to the all-time record year of 2008, the pace of this year’s pork exports is 6 percent higher in volume and 21 percent higher in value.

For the first half of this year, pork exports accounted for more than 27 percent of total production with export value equal to $52.76 per head.

Tremendous June results in Mexico and Canada firmly established their positions as the No. 1 and No. 2 markets for U.S. beef.