The U.S. exported $1.8 billion worth of pork and pork variety meats in the first four months of 2016.
On June 9, the National Pork Board announced the results of the beginning of 2016 as part of its press conference at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines. The board, funded by the Pork Checkoff, is charged with promoting the industry to consumers.
In total, 1.26 billion pounds of pork were exported, which is the same amount exported during the same period of the previous year. The value of the exports dropped by 9 percent compared with the same period of the previous year.
Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the checkoff, said U.S. pork exports are gaining strength but will continue to face challenges with increased global competition and a stronger U.S. dollar.
During the first four months of 2016, Mexico was the largest export market for U.S. pork, with $355.9 million worth of meat exported to the nation. Following Mexico were Hong Kong/China, $330.6 million; Japan, $489.9 million; Canada, $239.1 million; South Korea, $129.4 million; and Central/South America, $86.7 million.
In April, U.S. exports to China, excluding Hong Kong, surpassed its export volume to Japan for the first time. In the first four months of the year, exports to China and Hong Kong were up 78 percent in volume and 54 percent in value. Nepple said the U.S. has increased access to China and the country could be a stronger export market as farmers consider the feasibility of special rearing practices to access the lucrative market.
“As you all know China is a big opportunity if china were to import one more percent of their consumption that would equate to 5 percent of our production. So it’s a huge opportunity no matter how you look at it,” Nepple said. “So the eye is on the prize there but there are certainly some geopolitical issues that are slowing down the biggest opportunities.”
On average through April, 2016 U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports accounted for 24 percent of total pork production.