Asian FMD boosts US pork exports

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

Asian FMD boosts US pork exports

Related tags: Exports, Pork exports, International trade

The US was the world’s biggest pork exporter in 2011, shipping 2.24m tonnes, mostly to Asia, Canada and Mexico, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revealed. November was a record month, with export volumes and value up 22.5% and 35% respectively year-on-year.

A spokesperson for the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) told GlobalMeatNews​: “Growth was spurred by pork shortages in China and South Korea – related to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) – boosting exports from both the US and the EU. Renewed access to China certainly was a factor.

“Exports also benefited from duty-free tariff-rate quotas in 2011, as Korea attempted to alleviate inflation in pork prices amid its 30% drop in production. But US exports to its top-value market, Japan, were also a record high, as were exports to Canada, and the US maintained relatively steady exports to top-volume market Mexico.”

Export value to Japan, the world’s biggest importer and the country’s biggest market, reached $1.79bn in November, up 17% year-on-year. USMEF president and CEO Philip Seng said: “USMEF has continued to market US pork aggressively in Japan, because we know it is a valuable and fiercely competitive market. When we first broke the $1bn barrier in 2005, some speculated that this market may have peaked. They said so again in 2008, when exports hit $1.5bn. To be approaching $2bn is remarkable, and it shows just how vital Japan is to the bottom line of the US industry.”

The federation added that the success of US pork in Asia in 2011 was the result of low supply, meat quality and a weak dollar, and that the 2012 outlook was positive. “Both China and South Korea are increasing domestic production, which could lead to a slowdown in the pace of imports this year, but US exports to these markets will still trend at a new higher level, and the US will soon benefit from the KORUS free trade agreement.

“US pork exports to Japan, Mexico, Canada, Central/South America etc should remain strong and steady, driven by continued growth in demand for US pork and reduced duties through free trade agreements,”​ the spokesperson said.

November exports reached 29% of production, with a record value of $59.98 per head slaughtered, $15 higher than a year ago. Export value for the year was about $55.21 per head, instead of $43.72 in 2010.

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