In some of the top destinations for U.S. pork, the U.S. industry competes fiercely for market share with domestic products, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Mexico, however, offers a different business climate altogether.
Mexico’s pork industry struggles to keep up with domestic demand, while also looking to expand its export presence in Asia and other global markets. This provides a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. pork industry, especially considering that it holds about 90 percent of Mexico’s imported pork market.
According to Chad Russell, USMEF regional director, the key to pork export growth is to expand consumption of all pork in Mexico. In a recent address to U.S. pork producers and exporters, Russell explained that the U.S. pork industry will be the primary beneficiary if significant growth in total Mexican pork consumption can be achieved.
Russell added that this growth strategy also makes for better trade relations with Mexico, as it is less threatening to domestic producers and processors.
The U.S. industry has certainly capitalized on this opportunity in recent years, as U.S. pork exports (including variety meat) to Mexico have soared from $514 million in 2005 to nearly $1 billion last year. This year could see another record value total, as exports through September stood at $741 million.
The chances of growing U.S. pork exports south of the boarder grew earlier this summer with the resolution of a trucking issue between the United States and Mexico. The two governments signed an agreement in July which will cut Mexico’s tariffs on U.S. exports, including pork, by half.
The agreement resolved a long-standing dispute between the two countries over a trucking provision of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
Per capita pork consumption in Mexico has grown in recent years but stands at about 33 pounds per year, compared to about 60 pounds per year in the United States. Among popular pork cuts imported by Mexico are hams and bone-in shoulders.