Exports of U.S. pork in February reached 172,022 metric tons valued at $434.4 million, a 15% increase in value and 8% in volume compared to February 2010 totals, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.  

These numbers beat even the strong January 2011 numbers; the total for the first two months of 2011 currently sits at 337,160 metric tons valued at $831.3 million, increases of 11% in volume and 17% in value over the same period in 2010. Mexico, Japan, the Hong Kong/China region, South Korea and Canada remain the top five export markets.

In Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, exports were up 19% in volume and 17% in value for the first two months of 2011 to 74,498 metric tons valued at $280.3 million. In addition, Japanese import data show the U.S. market share increased to 45.5% of all imported pork — up from 43.2% in 2010. “The trend in Japan, as it is in a number of other Asian countries, is toward increasing reliance on imported foods to meet domestic needs,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “It is critical for the U.S. to maintain a strong presence in markets like Japan, where consumers are willing to pay for high-quality products. This year, 22 nations are exporting pork to Japan in competition for this valuable export market.”

In Mexico — the top export market in volume — a 5% decline in export volume and 3% slip in value from 2010 levels can be attributed to higher U.S. pork prices, according to the USMEF. Even with those numbers, however, exports to Mexico for the January–February period stand 71% higher in volume (94,883 metric tons) and 95% higher in value ($168 million) than the global record year of 2008.

The growth leader for U.S. pork exports in February was South Korea, which purchased a record 19,532 metric tons valued at $49.2 million as that nation continues to deal with product shortages driven by a major outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Monthly export totals to Korea jumped 154% in volume and 227% in value versus February 2010. For the first two months of 2011, South Korea has purchased 32,715 metric tons of U.S. pork valued at $81.3 million — increases of 143% and 198%, respectively.

Other key pork export markets include:

  • Hong Kong/China: down slightly (4% in volume and 9.4% in value) for February, but still up 19% in value ($81.5 million) and 22% in volume (56,429 metric tons) for January–February versus 2010.
  • Canada: level compared to 2010, with two-month totals at 26,746 metric tons valued at $89.7 million.
  • Central and South America: 11,128 metric tons (12% increase) valued at $28.4 million (26% increase) for the January–February 2011 period.
  • Russia: 278% increase in export volume and 406% jump in value to 8,009 metric tons valued at $21 million for the two-month start of 2011.