The United States have closed off a record year in terms of pig meat trade volumes, reported the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in an annual overview.
In 2017, pork exports totalled 2.45 million metric tonnes, breaking the 2016 record by 6%, USMEF said.
Also in terms of financial gain, the situation for the US swine business was rosy. Total value was US$ 6.49 billion – up 9% year-over-year and the 2nd highest on record, trailing only 2014 ($ 6.65 billion).
Pork exports accounted for 26.6% of total production in 2017 and 22.3% for muscle cuts only, each up nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. Pork export value averaged $ 53.47 per head slaughtered, up 7% from 2016.
Strong continued pork demand from Mexico
Neighbouring Mexico is among one of the countries driving the ongoing US export records. Strong demand for US hams set the pace for the 6th consecutive volume record for pork exports to Mexico at 801,887 metric tonnes, up 10% year-over-year. Export value reached $ 1.51 billion – up 12% and the second-highest on record, trailing only 2014 ($ 1.56 billion).
Per capita pork consumption in Mexico has grown by about 1/3 over the past 10 years and now stands at 18 kg. This rapid growth has been bolstered by USMEF’s trade education and outreach efforts and continuous engagement with Mexico’s importers, distributors and processors, as well as duty-free access under NAFTA.
Exports to other countries
Other 2017 US pork export highlights included:
Pork exports to Japan
Exports to leading value market Japan increased 2% in volume (393,648 metric tonnes) and 4% in value (US$ 1.63 billion). Chilled pork export volume to Japan was down slightly to 217,857 million tonnes, while value was up 4% to $ 1.03 billion. Market access to Japan is a growing concern for the US pork industry as trade barriers for Canadian, Mexican and Chilean pork will be reduced under CPTPP and the European Union will soon finalise an economic partnership agreement with Japan.
Pork exports to South Korea
Exports to South Korea soared 28% in volume to 173,182 metric tonnes, valued at US$ 475 million – up 30% year-over-year and the second-highest on record (exports reached $ 497 million in 2011, when Korea was in recovery from a Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak). The country’s pork consumption set another new record in 2017 and demand has been fuelled in part by a growing preference for protein-centric convenience foods and home meal replacement items. Most US pork now enter Korea duty-free under KORUS.
Pork exports to South America
Booming demand in Colombia and Chile and a growing presence for US pork in Peru fuelled a record performance in South America, where exports were up 57% in volume (103,987 metric tonnes) and 58% in value ($ 268 million). Most US pork entering South America is destined for further processing, but USMEF continues to make inroads in the retail sector and with US-origin processed products. Exports to the region could gain further momentum in 2018, when Argentina is expected to reopen to US pork and as pork consumption continues to grow in existing markets.
Pork exports to Central America
Pork exports to Central America were also record-large in 2017 at 73,891 metric tonnes (up 6%), valued at $ 179.8 million (up 8%), led by solid growth in mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala. Exports to the Dominican Republic also set a new record, with volume up 20% to 30,803 metric tonnes and value increasing 26% to $ 71.1 million.
Pork exports to Australia
Despite being limited to processed products and raw material destined for further processing, exports to Australia set a new volume record at 70,985 metric tonnes (up 12%) and climbed 17% in value to US$ 208.3 million. Australia is an especially important destination for US hams.
Pork exports to South East Asia
Strong growth in the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam pushed exports to the ASEAN region up 15% in volume (47,725 metric tonnes) and 30% in value ($ 128.2 million).
Pork exports to China & Hong Kong
China/Hong Kong was the 2nd largest volume destination for US pork at 495,637 metric tonnes. This was down 9% from a year ago as China’s total imports decreased, reflecting a rebound in domestic production. However, export value was up slightly from 2016 at US$ 1.08 billion. The region is the largest destination for US pork variety meat, with 2017 exports up 2% in volume to 321,116 metric tonnes. The value of these exports climbed 16% to $ 741.8 million, as variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong accounted for an average of $ 6.12 per US hog slaughtered.
Volume record for pork is ‘impressive’
Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO, commented in a press overview, “Heading into 2017, we knew US pork production would be record-large and that the industry would be counting more than ever on export growth to support hog prices and sustain profitability.
“Our international pork customers really stepped up to the plate, and USMEF helped the industry meet their needs through new product development, consumer education and outreach and by creating opportunities for customers to meet with US suppliers. The new volume record for pork is impressive, but it’s important to note that export value increased at an even more rapid pace – which confirms that international demand is robust and that exports deliver a strong return.”