U.S. pork exports rebounded to close the year with an 8% jump in volume and 6% in value for the month of December, compared to year ago figures, based on statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

For 2009, pork exports recorded the second-highest total in history, but fell 9% in volume and 11% in value behind the record-setting totals of 2008.

U.S. performance still topped global competitors, which based on available data slumped 15% in value for the year, led by a 22% decline for European Union pork producers.

“It’s been a challenging year for pork producers around the globe, not just in the United States,” says Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “However, it is encouraging to see consumer confidence returning and very positive signs of growth.”

U.S. pork export volume in 2009 was 4.11 billion pounds, valued at $4.33 billion. While down from 2008, these figures exceeded 2007 levels by 43% in volume and 37% in value.

Mexico was the volume leader with 1.11 billion pounds valued at $762.35 million, an increase of 27% and 10%, respectively over 2008.

Value of pork exports to Japan was $1.540 billion, just short of the value record ($1.545 billion), and the U.S. share of Japan’s imported pork market reached an all-time high of 46%.

U.S. pork and pork variety meat export records were established in the following markets:

Taiwan (up 35% in volume and 26% in value over 2008); the Philippines (up 44% in volume and 41% in value); Australia (up 10% in volume and 3% in value); New Zealand (up 11% in volume and 1% in value); and Central and South America (up 12% in volume and 14% in value).

Exports to the Caribbean rose 18% in volume and 10% in value over 2008. In particular, exports to the Dominican Republic surged 41% in volume and 32% in value.

The biggest export declines in 2009 occurred in two areas where market access and increases in domestic production were factors: China/Hong Kong and Russia. The Chinese market declined 35% in volume and 38% in value. Mainland China has been closed to U.S. pork since June 2009 due to the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus. Exports to Russia fell 36% in volume and 39% in value.

Other markets that showed major declines included Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union.

Overall, pork and pork variety meat exports accounted for 22.5% of U.S. production, compared to 24.4% in 2008. The value of exports per head slaughtered was $38.44 compared to $42.31 in 2008.

Global export value for all major pork exporters in 2009 fell about 15% to $12.75 billion, while the United States maintained a steady market share, accounting for about one-third of all global pork exports in 2009.

Complete export statistics are available online at www.USMEF.org.