With livestock producers facing economic and financial challenges, the importance of maintaining and growing U.S. pork exports cannot be overstated. Ongoing efforts by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) are key to bolstering international demand.

“With higher operating costs, both the pork and beef sectors are facing serious challenges,” according to USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. The USMEF official points to the importance of increasing sales of U.S. pork especially now with the near-record input costs caused by the 2012 drought. “It is absolutely critical that we remain aggressive with our international promotions and continue to capture the highest return possible on the products we export,” Seng adds.

To support and grow pork exports USMEF gathers and disseminates market intelligence and facilitates contact between U.S. exporters and targeted buyers in export markets.

An increase in U.S. pork production has been offset by larger exports, helping drive the pork cutout to its peak in late June, according to Seng. “Pork export value totals continue to outpace last year’s records, which is certainly a positive sign.”

“The USMEF staff is working diligently to maintain and grow exports,” according to Erin Borror, USMEF economist. “Our efforts include a wide range of local promotions in export markets to reinforce current customers and draw new customers. Our staff works closely with customers and chefs as well as the local press in export markets to emphasize the value represented by U.S. pork.”

USMEF maintains 17 foreign-based offices around the world working on all levels in support of U.S. pork exports, Borror says. “This includes working with the importers and food service companies all the way through to consumers by educating and promoting the attributes of U.S. pork.”

U.S. pork exports achieved a record $6.1 billion in 2011 and may exceed that record in 2012. Mexico remains the top volume buyer of U.S. pork while Japan remains the value leader, Borror says. China/Hong Kong and Russia also have great potential as do countries of Central America.