In the past 21 years, U.S. Pork exports have grown from 86 million pounds carcass weight equivalent in 1986 to 3 billion pounds in 2006. Another comparison shows that the United States has gone from a negative 1.036 billion pounds net export in 1986 to a positive 2,008 billion pounds in 2006.

“Export growth is good news for pork producers,” says Glenn Grimes, an economist with the University of Missouri. “It has had a great impact on their income.”

Grimes is one of three economists who conducted the National Pork Board-sponsored analysis. Grimes, RonPlain, professor at the University of Missouri, and Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, are economics consultants for NPB.

The value of pork and pork byproduct exports has grown from $1.97 per hog slaughtered in 1986 to $27.34 per head harvested in 2006. These changes in trade have permitted the pork industry to grow at an additional rate of about 0.8 percent per year on average during the last 21 years.

“In other words, the U.S. pork industry was about 16 million head larger in 2006 than it would have been had pork imports and exports remained at 1986 levels,” says Grimes. “Not only has the increase in the quantity of pork traded allowed the industry to grow without lowering prices, but it has also added to producer incomes in the years when net exports grew.

“Based on our efforts to calculate the effect of imports and exports on the price of hogs between 1986 to 2006, we believe these estimates are conservative because they show that prices increased only in the year when net exports grew,” Grimes continues. “We assumed producers reacted to higher prices by increasing the U.S. herd enough to offset any price benefits from net export growth in the following years.”

Japan is the largest U.S. pork customer, purchasing nearly 34 percent of our exports in 2006. Mexico is second and Canada is third in tonnage purchased from the United States.

“We believe the total income of all U.S. pork producers has been improved by $7.4 billion during the last 21 years by the increase in exports,” says Grimes.

Pork producers have spent nearly $59 million in the last 21 years to promote exports through national pork checkoff funds.

Source: National Pork Board