In 1998, the United States shipped 1.116 billion pounds of pork, meaning that about 1 of every 6 lb. of pork exported was of U.S. origin.

How times have changed. For the first four months of 2008 alone, the U.S. pork industry already has exported 1.389 billion pounds of pork products to countries around the world. For every 3.3 lb. of pork traded, 1 lb. came from the United States.

The consistent taste and quality of U.S. pork, coupled with decades of campaigns and promotions, have made the United States the dominant player in the global pork industry, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“It’s clear that future growth and prosperity for the U.S. pork industry are inextricably tied to our ability to grow exports,” says Danita Rodibaugh, USMEF executive committee member and pork producer from Rensselaer, IN. “The increasing presence and importance of U.S. pork in the global marketplace is a tribute to the quality of product, in addition to how well we are marketing it overseas.”

U.S. pork has set export records for 16 consecutive years, the best two months ever for U.S. pork exports were both in 2008, and this year exports have made up 22% of total U.S. pork and pork variety meat production, compared to 16.5% last year.

Total pork exports for January-April 2008 have soared 52% above the same period a year ago and are valued at $1.4 billion. USMEF forecasts 2008 pork exports will reach 3.34 billion pounds, or an increase of 200% over exports in 1998.