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Canada pork exports up despite weak Korean demand

South Korean demand for Canadian pork products may be slowing down, but the total volume of exports is expected to remain steady.

South Korea imported a lot of Canadian pork products in 2011 following that country's outbreak of foot and mouth disease - but it's not expected to be such a big customer in 2012, said Martin Charron, vice-president of market access and trade development for Canada Pork International.

"Their pork production is starting to recover to where it was," he said.

South Korea is also importing more pork products from Canada's competitors, the US and Europe.

"The fact that Europe and the U.S. have negotiated a free trade agreement with South Korea, and Canada has not, means Canadian pork will be more expensive for South Korea," Charron said. "Tariffs on European and US pork will be reduced, while tariffs on the Canadian pork remain stable."

Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council, expects that demand from other countries for Canadian pork products will help export numbers stay steady, or even see a slight increase in 2012.

"It looks like our exports to Australia are strong, as is the case for South Africa," he said. "And, exports to the US, Japan, Russia, China and Mexico are pretty much running at the same pace as last year."

Rice estimated that Canada will export about 1.175 million tonnes of pork products in 2012, compared to 1.151 million tonnes in 2011.

However, pork product prices have been experiencing a downward trend because of the slowing export demand from South Korea, Rice said. Expectations were for prices to go up, as sales were stronger in the earlier part of the year.

Source: the Canadian Cattlemen

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