Data Sources
Product Lists and Descriptions
Conversion Factors
Country Groupings by Region

This page describes the data sources, product lists and descriptions, conversion factors, and country groupings used in the livestock and meat trade tables. 


This data set contains monthly and annual data for the past 1-2 years for imports and exports of live cattle and hogs, beef and veal, lamb and mutton, pork, broilers, turkey, and shell eggs. The tables report physical quantities, not dollar values or unit prices. Breakdowns by major trading countries are included. (Historical trade data are available in the Red Meat Yearbook and Poultry Yearbook.)

Data Sources

The ERS livestock and meat trade tables are based on data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Foreign Trade Division. The Information Section at the beginning of each monthly Census report describes the data as follows:

"The Census basis goods data are compiled from the documents collected by the U.S. Customs Border and Protection and reflect the movement of goods between foreign countries and the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. Foreign Trade Zones. They include government and nongovernment shipments of goods, and exclude shipments between the United States and its territories and possessions; transactions with U.S. military, diplomatic, and consular installations abroad; U.S. goods returned to the United States by its Armed Forces; personal and household effects of travelers; and intransit shipments. The General Imports value reflects the total arrival of merchandise from foreign countries that immediately enters consumption channels, warehouses, or Foreign Trade Zones.

For imports, the value reported is the U.S. Customs Border and Protection appraised value of merchandise; generally, the price paid for merchandise for export to the United States. Import duties, freight, insurance, and other charges incurred in bringing merchandise to the United States are excluded.

Exports are valued at the f.a.s. (free alongside ship) value of merchandise at the U.S. port of export, based on the transaction price including inland freight, insurance, and other charges incurred in placing the merchandise alongside the carrier at the U.S. port of exportation."

Full documentation and summary statistics are available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Census Bureau data are considered the official government trade statistics, although other government agencies do border inspections and report quantities. For example, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) checks the health of imported live animals and reports the number of head checked. Similarly, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) monitors the safety of imported meats and tallies those quantities. These APHIS and FSIS quantities are reported weekly by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. However, while these quantities usually correspond closely to Census data, they should not be regarded as official trade statistics.

Product Lists and Descriptions

Census Bureau data utilize a complex set of product categories based on a coding system established by the World Customs Organization, called the International Harmonized Commodity Coding and Classification System, or simply Harmonized System (HS). HS is an international standard for world trade at 2-digit, 4-digit, and 6-digit levels. For example, 02 = meat and edible meat offal; 0201 = meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled; and 020130 = bovine cuts, boneless, fresh or chilled.

Each country has the option of supplementing the international HS codes with greater detail to meet its own needs. The United States adopted a 10-digit code system and began using it for U.S. trade on January 1, 1989.

Exports codes, known as Schedule B in the United States, are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes, known as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). (See Background Information for U.S. Agricultural Trade Data for more information on U.S. and international trade coding systems.)

Livestock and meat export codes from Schedule B are:

Livestock and meat import codes from HTS, with corresponding tariff rates are:

The ERS livestock and meat trade tables report results for 13 broad groupings of products. Each grouping represents multiple products at the HTS-10 level of detail.

Grouping Number of 10-digit product codes
Cattle 5
Hogs 3
Beef and veal 17
Broiler meat 12
Lamb and mutton 8
Pork 26
Turkey meat 20
Shell eggs 2
Cattle 20
Hogs 10
Beef and veal 80
Lamb and mutton 18
Pork 39

See Livestock and Meat Trade Codes and Conversion Factors for a full list of HTS codes and descriptions.

Periodically, commodity codes become obsolete and are replaced, redefined, or recategorized. Once a code becomes obsolete, data are not reported for it in subsequent periods, but are instead reported for newly defined code(s). For example, in July 2003 the code:

0103910000 Swine, live, nesoi [not elsewhere specified or indicated], weighing less than 50 kg [kilograms] each

was replaced with:

0103910010 Swine, live, nesoi, weighing less than 7 kg each
0103910020 Swine, live, nesoi, weighing 7 kg or more but less than 23 kg each
0103910030 Swine, live, nesoi, weighing 23 kg or more but less than 50 kg each

Data reported for periods preceding the introduction of new codes continue to use the original codes.

Because many users of livestock trade data conduct time-series analysis going back several years, the lists of product codes provided here include obsolete codes that were in effect beginning in 1989. In Livestock and Meat Trade Codes and Conversion Factors, obsolete codes are designated with an asterisk (*) in the product description. 

Conversion Factors

U.S. Census Bureau data for meat products are typically reported in metric tons of product weight. For beef, lamb and mutton, and pork, ERS converts the quantity data from a product-weight basis to a carcass-weight-equivalent (CWE) basis. ERS converts these data to CWE format because red meat production data (the largest category in USDA's meat supply and utilization tables) are reported in CWE. Of course, ERS also converts the quantities from metric tons to pounds.

Livestock carcasses typically have the feet, head, tail, hide, and internal organs removed, although there are some variations across species. Carcass weight intends to measure the weight of skeletal muscle and bones after the other parts listed above have been removed. Also, for boneless meat products, the conversion factor "adds back" the weight of the bones removed from that portion of the carcass. For processed-meat products, such as sausage, the conversion factors assume some fixed fraction of the product is beef, pork, chicken, etc.

Livestock and Meat Trade Codes and Conversion Factors contains tables showing conversion factors used in ERS calculations for beef, lamb and mutton, and pork products. These tables also include obsolete codes and their associated conversion factors.

The factors for converting product weight to carcass-weight equivalent are based on studies of the relative weights of carcass components, where composition is considered by type of cut and by the shares of muscle, bone, and fat in these parts. An ERS publication, Weights, Measures, and Conversion Factors for Agricultural Commodities and Their Products (see link below), provides the relevant details. Meat and poultry measures are listed in tables 7-13.

Weights, Measures, and Conversion Factors for Agricultural Commodities and Their Products

Country Groupings by Region

The livestock and meat trade tables report quantities for major trading partners. Usually, these are individual countries but at times they include the following regions:

  • Caribbean (23 countries)
    Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Christopher-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadine, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Commonwealth of Independent States (11 countries), excluding Russia
    Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
  • Eastern Europe (8 countries)
    Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Yugoslavia
  • Baltic (3 countries)
    Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania