The final numbers aren't in, but U.S. pork has had a banner year in the export market. No question, some a chunk of it is due to continued improvements by the industry in terms of providing the products that foreign markets want. Certainly, some of it is due to trade promotion and negotiation efforts of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council. A portion of it also is because BSE and Avian influenza issues in the United States left a gapping protein hole for international markets to fill.

U.S. pork came to the rescue.

Some pork will be replaced with beef and chicken once foreign buyers– especially Japan– get more comfortable with U.S. testing programs and herd-health assurances. But now that pork has it's foot in the door, it will be easier to stand firmer in more markets.

For the first 10 months of 2004, U.S. pork (including variety meat) exports have already broken last year's record sales. From January through October all U.S. pork product exports were 34 percent higher in volume (819,964 metric tons) compared to those 10 months of 2003, and 38 percent higher in value at $1.789 billion. For the entire 2003, U.S. pork exports totaled 757,905 mt, valued at $1.582 billion.

In the past 15 years, U.S. pork export growth looked like this:

  • 1989, 152,817 mt
  • 1992, for the first time U.S. pork exports exceeded 200,000 mt
  • 1995 they surpassed 350,000
  • 1998, 500,000 mt
  •  By 2001, U.S. pork exports jumped from 2000's 581,497 mt to 702,377.
  • This year marks another important milestone as U.S. exports exceed 800,000 mt for the first time.

U.S. pork exports to Japan have been running 12 percent higher in volume (258,663 mt) and 20 percent higher in value ($813.2 million), compared to the first 10 months of 2003, but Mexico has retained the  No.1 slot in terms of tonnage. Exports to Mexico in the first 10 months of 2004 (286,114 mt) have already exceeded last year's record total by more than 67,000 mt. The value of U.S. pork exports to Mexico has also set a new record — $445.7 million compared to $294.9 million for 2003. This marks the 5th successive record year of sales to Mexico.

U.S. pork exports have also broken, or on track to break, records for exports to Canada, China and Taiwan.

U.S. Meat Export Federation