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US: March pork exports remain solid

Exports of US pork registered a solid performance in March, led by extremely strong pork sales to Mexico.

Pork plus pork variety meat exports rose 16% in volume and 17% in value over March 2008.

Compared to the first quarter of 2008, pork exports have risen by 8% in volume to 489,348 metric tonnes (1.08 billion pounds) and by 10% in value to $1.12 billion. More than 23% of first quarter pork and variety meat production was exported.

Total US pork exports to Mexico in March (45,741 metric tonnes or 100.8 million pounds) nearly doubled in volume from a year ago and rose 76% in value to $65.2 million. For the first quarter of 2009, exports to Mexico increased 74% in volume (136,898 metric tonnes or 301.8 million pounds) and by 66% in value to $204.7 million.

This performance is remarkable considering the sluggish economic conditions in Mexico, though these results do not reflect the economic slowdown Mexico has endured over the past few weeks due to H1N1 Influenza.

“The good news is that US pork has been performing extremely well in Mexico, and we have continued to grow the market at a very strong pace,” said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

“The bad news, obviously, is the disruption that has taken place in the market since that time. We have a significant rebuilding project underway with regard to pork demand and consumer activity in general, but these numbers give us confidence that US pork has a solid following and will bounce back quickly.”

Japan continues to be the mainstay value market for US pork, with first quarter exports rising 13% in volume to 119,445 metric tonnes (263.3 million pounds) and by 26% in value to $424 million. March results reflected a slowdown, however, as pork exports rose just 1% in value over a year ago while slipping by 3.5% in volume.

Pork exports to the China/Hong Kong region have declined by 36% compared to the first quarter of 2008, with exports to Russia declining 38 percent in volume and 44% in value. These declines have been largely offset, however, by growth in Taiwan, the ASEAN region, the Caribbean, Australia and Central and South America.

Complete March export statistics are available online.

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