The U.S. pork industry achieved its 16th consecutive year of record-setting growth in exports in 2007, according to statistics released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Overall, pork exports climbed 3% in volume over 2006, representing nearly 2.9 billion lb. The value of those exports jumped 10% over 2006, exceeding $3.15 billion.

Pork muscle cut exports also increased 3% in volume and 10% in value, while pork variety meat exports increased 5% in volume and 14% in value.

Japan remains the leading market for U.S. pork, accounting for 36% of the value of all U.S. pork exports. Japan imported more than 790 million lb. of U.S. pork in 2007 – 6% more than the previous year. Those imports were valued at $1.2 billion, 11% more than in ’06.

Mexico retains the number two ranking for U.S. pork exports despite a 22% decline last year. Even with some erosion in U.S. pork gains, due to increased domestic poultry, beef and pork production, the United States still dominates Mexico’s import trade with an 85% share, according to Erin Daley, USMEF manager of research and analysis.

China/Hong Kong was the largest growth market for U.S. pork exports in 2007, advancing 91% to nearly 373 million lb., valued at almost $271 million.

Exports to China/Hong Kong exceeded exports to Canada in volume, at 327.5 million lb. But Canada remains the number three market in value of pork exports at $491.6 million, a 12% increase over 2006.

“The strong Canadian dollar and high feed and labor costs will continue to influence meat and livestock trade with our northern neighbor,” comments Daley.

Pork exports to Russia doubled in 2006 and continued to grow in 2007. A new record increase of 21% pushed exports to 220.2 million lb., valued at nearly $207 million, a 26% increase in value over the previous year.

In other key U.S. pork trade news:
· Sales to South Korea dipped 9% to 220.1 million lb., but product value was essentially unchanged at $231 million.
· Australia and New Zealand increased 22% to 82.5 million lb., worth nearly $100 million.
· Central and South America increased 22% to 73 million lb., valued at $70.9 million.
· Pork exports to the European Union increased 55% to nearly 43.5 million lb., with a 70% increase in value to $57.8 million.
· Exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations climbed 62% to 34.5 million lb. valued at $30.5 million.
· The Dominican Republic increased 39% to 12.6 million lb., valued at $10.8 million, while exports to other Caribbean countries fell 12% to 32.9 million lb.

Exports to Taiwan fell 37% to 35.2 million lb., due mainly to market access issues.