U.S. pork exporters can now ship product to China. This follows final revisions secured last Friday and on Monday, according to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

"Obviously we'll be watching the market with some caution until product is flowing successfully again, but we feel there's a workable agreement in place that will allow trade to resume," says Joe Schuele, with U.S. Meat Export Federation.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced earlier this month that the United States had reached an agreement with China to start sending U.S. pork exports there for the first time since mid-2009, when Beijing imposed a ban related to fears about the Novel H1N1 2009 influenza virus.

USMEF has highlighted these points, regarding the revised export requirements:

  • Product with a pack date on or after Dec. 1, 2009, is eligible to export to China
  • The certificate date for export must be on or after March 24, 2010
  • A new bilingual FSIS letterhead certificate must accompany all shipments

"Under this agreement, U.S. pork will return to China under the same terms as our competitors in Europe and Canada," says Philip Seng, USMEF president and chief executive officer. "It's important to remember that China has a history of dramatic shifts in its pork production and its need for imported product. That's why it is critical to be well-positioned in this market whenever circumstances change and new opportunities emerge."

U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to China peaked in 2008 at 366 million pounds for a value exceeding $334 million. Last year, U.S. pork exports dropped by more than 60 percent last year. While Novel H1N1 disrupted many markets, including China, that country’s abundant domestic pork supply also was a significant factor. China imports 42 percent less pork overall.

China’s government is providing incentives to build the country’s own pork production and would like to be self-sufficient, but many speculate due to the mere size of the population, and it’s taste for pork, it will always be somewhat dependent on imports. In 2009, China remained the world's fifth-largest pork importer by volume.

Source: Meatingplace.com, USDA