While labor problems at U.S. West Coast ports likely contributed to declines in January exports to Asia, shipments to Mexico—not much affected by Pacific port labor disputes—were marginally lower than a year ago.

Last year, Mexico was the largest foreign market for U.S. pork, in terms of volume. Lower shipments to Mexico in January could be attributed in part to the high exchange rate of the U.S. dollar; as the value of the U.S. dollar increases, more pesos are necessary for buying U.S products, leading to lower demand.

The figure below shows the recent history of this key exchange rate, which affects buying decisions of a country that is an important source of growth for U.S. pork exports.

Source: USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry report, March 2015