US pork exports have fallen 21.5% over the past year as global economic woes effected demand and sales to China continued to decline after a pre-Olympic surge, industry analysts have stated.
The outbreak in late April of the new H1N1 flu could heavily effect figures for May due to ‘swine flu’ references prompting consumers to avoid the product. USDA reported April pork exports at about 345.2 million lbs, down from 369.5 million during March and well below the 439.5 million lbs exported last year during April.
“And the percentage decline should stay very large for the next several months because we were exporting an awful lot of pork late spring and summer of 2008. China was short on pork and bought lots of it in 2008, partly due to they wanted to make sure there was plenty of meat for the Olympics. They have also been able to rebuild their hog industry so they are buying a lot less,” said Ron Plain, livestock economist at the University of Missouri.
China imports of US pork were about 18.4 million lbs in April, up from 14.4 million in March but well below the 53 million lbs imported during April 2008.
Exports to Mexico and South Korea improved in April from the March pace. But declining world economies generally reduced demand for US pork as many countries struggled to make ends meet and reduced their meat imports. “A lot of countries just don’t have as much money to buy food as they used to have, and that’s hurting exports,” Plain said.
Japan and South Korea were the bright spots with exports to Japan up 4.9% from last year and exports to South Korea up about 10% from last year.