The U.S. pork industry achieved its 16th consecutive record-setting year of exports in 2007, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

"Exports are a key component to strengthening the future of the U.S. pork industry," says Tim Bierman, a pork producer from Larrabee, Iowa, and a member of National Pork Board's Trade Committee.  "Producers should be proud that one of every four pounds of pork traded today originates from the United States."

Pork exports increased 3 percent in volume last year from 2006 levels, surpassing 1.3 million metric tons, nearly 2.9 billion pounds. The value of those exports jumped 10 percent from 2006, exceeding $3.15 billion.  Pork muscle cut exports also increased 3 percent in volume and 10 percent in value, while pork variety meat exports increased 5 percent in volume and 14 percent in value.

Japan remains the top destination for U.S. pork, accounting for 36 percent of value of all U.S. pork exports. Japan imported 358,582 metric tons, more than 790 million pounds, of pork in 2007, a 6 percent increase from 2006. Those imports were valued at $1.152 billion, an 11 percent increase from 2006.

"Pork checkoff-funded educational events and promotions help traders and consumers in Japan see firsthand the commitment and dedication the U.S. industry has for the Japanese market," says Greh Hanes, USMEF Japan director.  "Also, U.S. Pork is perceived as the highest quality product available."

Mexico remains the No. 2 destination for U.S. pork despite a 22 percent decline in imports in 2007.   Pork exports to Mexico in 2007 totaled 276,388 metric tons, more than 609 million pounds.

China/Hong Kong was the largest growth market for U.S. pork exports, jumping 91 percent to 169,160 metric tons, nearly 373 million pounds, valued at almost $271 million. Exports to China/Hong Kong surpassed exports to Canada in volume 148,576 metric tons or 327.5 million pounds, but Canada remains the No. 3 market in value of pork exports at $491.58 million, a 12 percent jump over 2006. 

Pork exports to Russia doubled in 2006, and continued to grow in 2007, setting a new record with a 21 percent hike to 99,876 metric tons, 220.2 million pounds, valued at nearly $207 million, a 26 percent increase in value over the prior year. The weak U.S. dollar, combined with high Brazilian pork prices, gave the United States a competitive advantage in the Russian market, enabling U.S. exports to exceed the 49,000 metric ton, 108 million pounds, quota for U.S. pork imports.

Among other key export markets for U.S. pork:

  • South Korea dipped 9 percent to 99,852 metric tons, 220.1 million pounds, but value was essentially unchanged at $231 million.  
  • Australia and New Zealand increased 22 percent to 37,452 metric tons, 82.5 million pounds, valued at $99.863 million, a 33 percent increase from 2006. Australia's Productivity Commission will release its final report in March, following the preliminary decision which did not recommend safeguard action against Denmark, Canada and the United States.
  • Central and South America also increased 22 percent to 33,119 metric tons, 73 million pounds, valued at $70.9 million. The largest markets were Honduras, 17 percent increase to 11,484 metric tons or 25 million pounds; Guatemala,  21 percent increase to 6,092 metric tons or 13.4 million pounds; and Colombia, 21 percent increase to 5,183 metric tons or 11.4 million pounds. U.S. pork exports will continue to benefit from Free Trade Agreements with all three of these countries.
  • Pork exports to the European Union increased 55 percent to 19,722 metric tons, nearly 43.5 million pounds, with a 70 percent increase in value to $57.8 million. France was the new growth market and the United Kingdom and the Netherlands were the other top destinations.
  • Exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also increased 62 percent to 15,672 metric tons, 34.5 million pounds, valued at $30.5 million. The Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore were the largest markets.
  • The Dominican Republic increased 39 percent to 5,746 metric tons, 12.6 million pounds, valued at $10.8 million while exports to the Caribbean excluding Cuba and the Dominican Republic, fell 12 percent to 14,934 metric tons, 32.9 million pounds.
  • Exports to Taiwan fell 37 percent to 15,974 metric tons, 35.2 million pounds, due primarily to market access issues.

"By working together, NPB and USMEF are accomplishing goals that we couldn't do on our own," says Bierman.  

Source: National Pork Board