Continued strong performance in Mexico and Japan are leading a rebound for exports of U.S. pork through the first three quarters of 2009.

“It has been a remarkable year for U.S. pork in Mexico, especially when you consider the disruption we experienced in April and May due to H1N1 influenza,” says Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). “USMEF worked successfully during this time to maintain our market access in Mexico, and then focused on rebuilding consumer confidence and demand.”

For September 2009, the volume of pork exports to Mexico surged nearly 37% higher than the same month a year ago, putting Mexico’s January-September export volume at 814.3 million pounds valued at $547.7 million. That’s 38% and 15% higher, respectively, than the first three quarters of 2008, according to USMEF, a trade association funded by the Pork Checkoff and other agricultural organizations to develop international markets for the U.S. red meat industry.

U.S. pork exports to Japan rose 3% to $1.17 billion. With a strong fourth-quarter performance, pork exports to Japan could exceed last year’s record value of $1.55 billion. Pork export volume to Japan at 703.9 million pounds is only slightly behind its 2008 pace.

“U.S. pork continues to break new ground in Japan, despite the fact that Japan’s domestic pork production has increased nearly 6% this year,” Seng says. “Our processed items, for example, are growing dramatically in this market. Exports of U.S. sausage to Japan have increased by more than 25% this year.”

Globally, U.S. pork plus variety meat exports in September stood at 339.5 million pounds valued at $347.8 million, the highest volume since April 2009, based on data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and compiled by USMEF.

Exports are also regaining strength in Canada, Russia and the Greater China region.

U.S. pork exports to Canada in September set a new monthly volume record at 38.9 million pounds, climbing 37% from August and beating last September’s total by 11%.

Sales to Russia more than doubled in volume and value for August, reaching the second-highest total (to July) of the year at 38.9 million pounds worth $34.9 million.

Exports to the China/Hong Kong region tallied their highest volume at 45.3 million pounds despite continued suspension of U.S. pork exports into mainland China. Exports to Taiwan set a monthly record in September at 12.8 million pounds valued at $9.28 million, due in part to the impact of the recent typhoon on domestic production.

Other markets showing gains over 2008 include Australia (up 25% in volume and 23% in value), the Philippines (up 17% and 14%), the Caribbean (up 33% and 26%), Central and South America (up 14% and 18%). USMEF says U.S. pork exports are expected to set new records in 2009 to all of these markets.