Expansion in pork consumption worldwide is fueling continued growth of U.S. pork exports, says the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork export volume rose 11% in 2006 (January-May), compared to the same period in 2005. Strongest growth was in Hong Kong (+260%); Russia (+114%); Taiwan (+51%); and South Korea (+47%).

“U.S. pork has a number of strengths, including a reputation for quality, an ability to supply large quantities of chilled pork by specific cut/product, an ability to supply large quantities of variety meat items, and the ability for the industry to develop new and creative products, such as fully-cooked bacon,” says Kevin Smith, USMEF's assistant director of export sales.

A recent USMEF study to assess the overall value of pork exports to the pork industry uncovered these facts:

  • U.S. pork producers export the equivalent of 49,500 market hogs every day;

  • In 2005, U.S. pork producers sold more than 1.1 million tons of pork and pork variety meats worth more than $2.5 billion;

  • The United States exported 12% of its domestic pork production in 2005, up from only 3% in 1990;

  • One in every 8 lb. of pork sold in the world originates in the United States; and

  • In 2004, the United States exported the “pork equivalent” of nearly 10.9 million hogs. These “export hogs” were worth $22.64 more live — or $8.40/cwt. live — than their “domestic” counterparts.

Tim Bierman, a Larabee, IA, wean-to-finish producer, says trips to Asia and Mexico have given him a very clear signal of what foreign buyers want from U.S. pork.

“Food safety is number one on foreign buyers' lists, especially in Japan,” says Bierman, who serves on the National Pork Board's Trade Committee.