As for Japan, Seng noted that this market continues to generate amazing returns for U.S. pork producers. He remains hopeful that by December the U.S. will be challenging last year’s record value — which is a mark many people would have said was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Mexico, the largest volume destination for U.S. pork, saw exports fall by 3 percent in volume (260,858 metric tons) and hold steady in value ($484.9 million) compared to last year.

U.S. ham and shoulder cuts were recently granted a tariff reduction (from 5 percent to 2.5 percent) as a result of a settlement in the NAFTA trucking dispute. These retaliatory tariffs are scheduled to be removed completely in the near future, which should help U.S. pork regain momentum in Mexico.

 “Our pork results in Mexico are still solid, but I will be very pleased when these retaliatory tariffs are completely behind us,” Seng explained.

“Canada is our chief competitor in this market, and these tariffs severely reduced our advantage in terms of transportation costs.”

U.S. lamb exports grew by 59 percent in volume (9,395 metric tons) and 31 percent in value ($15.5 million) in the first half of 2011.

Exports to the mainstay markets of Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean led the way, with strong growth also in Costa Rica, Guatemala and the United Arab Emirates.

Complete 2011 export statistics for U.S. beef, pork and lamb are available online.