U.S. pork exports recorded its 13th-consecutive year of growth in 2004, according to data just released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The U.S. share of world pork trade increased 2.9% to 11.5%. Value of pork exports rose 41% to $2.227 billion, setting a new record. Pork and pork variety meat exports reached 1.123 million tons in 2004, up from 833,147 tons the previous year.

U.S. pork sales to Mexico increased 65% to 397,746 tons, beating out Japan as the largest export market for U.S. pork products. Value of exports to Mexico was $567 million.

USDA data shows pork exports returned $9.62/hog to pork producers in 2004, and have added more than $4 billion in gross income to producers since 1987.

“U.S. pork exports topped 2 billion pounds on a carcass-weight basis for the first time ever last year,” reports Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri agricultural economist. “Checkoff-funded promotions are helping build demand for pork products all over the world.”

All three of the top destinations for U.S. pork in 2004 increased purchases: Mexico (+53%); Japan (+16%); and Canada (+21%). Grimes notes: “Last year was the best one for pork producers since 1990. A combination of records were set in the areas of production, slaughter and the cutout value, resulting in the highest hog prices since 1990.”