U.S. pork net exports have been increasing since 1995 and continue to climb adding value to the pork you produce.

With the 2000 pork export data complete, it shows that pork exports were up 2 percent from 1999. This reveals an even stronger performance than at first glance, when you consider that the Russian food aid package was included in the 1999 export totals. As a result, U.S. exports to Russia fell significantly in 2000 without the food-aid package and with the Russian economy continuing to lag.

U.S. pork sales to Japan were up a short 9 percent last year. While it suggests those exports may be leveling off a bit, it still shows upward movement in our largest market. Other factors, like the foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom may have an impact on other exporters to Japan, like Denmark, before all is said and done.

The market showing the most promise for U.S. pork is Mexico. Last year, U.S. exports to Mexico grew 81 percent from 1999. All evidence points to Mexico remaining a viable market for U.S. pork, with continued strong growth.

Higher prices last year compared with 1999, helped boost export value even further. The value of U.S. pork exports rose 18 percent to more than $1.3 billion, while total tonnage sold was 12 percent higher than 1999. This number subtracts the food-aid package from the 1999 total, nor does it account for pork imports into the United States, which also rose in 2000.

Of course, regardless of pork prices, the added value the exports provide is a reflection of the fact that U.S. producers provide a safe, consistent, quality product. As long as that remains unchanged, exports should continue to climb making U.S. pork that much more valuable.

“Every 1 percent change in net exports equals $250 million to the U.S. pork industry,” says Nick Giordano, international trade counsel for the National Pork Producers Council.