The month of August continues the downward slide of pork exports in 2009, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

August 2009 pork plus pork variety meat exports declined 22% in volume and 28% in value compared to August 2008. For January-August, exports totaled 2.67 billion pounds valued at $2.85 billion, a decline of 12% in volume and 11% in value from the same period last year.

While the August 2009 export pace is lower than the record-setting level set in 2008, it is still 35% larger than August 2007 – the previous high for pork exports – and accumulated exports through the first eight months of the year were 51% larger than January-August 2007.

The results for the first eight months of 2009 reflect that while Mexico and Japan continue to perform above their record pace of 2008, the gains achieved are no longer large enough to offset the decline in exports to China and Russia, which are in part due to market access restrictions.

January-August pork exports to Mexico reached 742.9 million pounds worth nearly $487 million, 38% higher by volume and 17% higher by value than the same period last year. For August, pork exports to Mexico were 5% higher in volume and 6% higher in value than July 2009, and up more than 10% in both volume and value over June 2009, signaling that demand for U.S. pork has recovered from the H1N1 flu crisis that hit Mexico earlier this year.

January-August pork exports to Japan dropped below 2008 figures, but still increased 6% in value, and exceeded the $1 billion figure at the earliest point in the year ever.

There were a handful of other export market positives for U.S. pork exports through August. Pork exports to Australia were up 26% in volume and 23% in value over the same period in 2008; the Caribbean was up 37% in volume and 30% in value; Taiwan was up 22% in volume and 12% in value; and the Philippines was up 12% in volume and 10% in value.

“USMEF has really intensified pork marketing activities in Japan and Mexico and those efforts are paying major dividends. It is especially gratifying to see pork demand in Mexico rebound from the H1N1 situation,” says USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “USMEF continues to work with the U.S. government in support of its efforts to resolve market access issues with China and Russia, and we will continue to maximize our pork marketing opportunities wherever they are available.”

Exports to China have declined by nearly 70% in both volume and value, led by the virtual closing of the market to U.S. pork for the entire summer, due to H1N1 influenza-related restrictions.

Russia has lifted most of its H1N1 influenza-related restrictions on U.S. pork (except for Florida). But some remaining sanitary and phytosanitary issues have contributed to a decline in exports of almost 40% compared to January-August 2008.

More U.S. pork export data can be found at www.USMEF.org.