The USDA pork export forecast for 2011 was raised from 4.615 billion pounds to 4.675 billion pounds, largely on the expectation of increased exports to South Korea. A recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in South Korea prompted its government to undertake a significant animal cull and to reduce the import duty on the 60,000 MT tariff-rate quota (TRQ) for frozen pork from 25 percent to zero until June 30, 2011. Stronger economic growth in other important pork-importing countries is also likely to increase demand for U.S. pork.

Total fourth-quarter 2010 pork exports were 1.147 billion pounds, an increase of 2.8 percent over the same period last year. Total 2010 shipments were 4.227 billion pounds, 3.2 percent larger than 2009 exports. The largest foreign destinations of U.S. pork in 2010 were Japan (accounting for 30 percent of U.S. exports in 2010), Mexico (25 percent), Canada (10 percent), South Korea (5 percent), and Hong Kong (5 percent). Last year, exports accounted for almost 19 percent of U.S. pork production. In 2000, that proportion was 6.8 percent.

U.S. pork imports finished the fourth quarter 1.5 percent below a year earlier, at 219 million pounds. Total imports for 2010 were almost 860 million pounds, 3.1 percent larger than in 2009. Import shares stayed relatively constant year-over-year, with Canada accounting for 81 percent of U.S. imports in both 2010 and 2009. Nine percent of U.S. imports last year were of Danish origin, compared with almost 10 percent in 2009. Live swine imports fell almost 10 percent in 2010 compared with 2009.