First-quarter imports of pork were 199 million pounds, 3.1 percent less than a year ago. Shipments from both major suppliers of foreign pork products to the United States—Canada and Denmark—were lower in the first quarter. At the margin, exchange rate relationships likely accounted for part of the reduction in imports from Canada. For 2010, total imports of 855 million pounds are anticipated, with a slight increase expected in 2011, to 885 million pounds.

Imports as a percentage of total U.S. pork disappearance averaged slightly above 5 percent between 2000 and 2009. For both 2010 and 2011, the ratio of imports to disappearance is slightly below the recent average, meaning that imports are a slightly less important component of total pork consumed in the United States.

First-quarter live swine imports were almost 18 percent lower than a year ago. The vast majority of live imports are of Canadian origin. Lower imports are a continuation of a trend that began in the second quarter of 2008, and imports are expected to remain low into next year. Total live swine imports, both this year and next, are expected to be about 6 million head.

It is worth pointing out that two categories of live swine imports—feeder pigs weighing over 7 kilograms but less 23 kilograms, and hogs weighing more than 50 kilograms—were year-over-year higher compared with first-quarter 2009. These increases could reflect very strong U.S. demand for hogs, in light of recent hog prices.