An analysis of data by the National Pork Board and the University of Missouri shows impressive gains in U.S. pork exports over the last 22 years.

U.S. pork exports have grown from 86 million lb., carcass weight equivalent, in 1986 to 3.1 billion lb. in 2007. Another comparison shows that the United States has gone from a negative 1.036 billion lb. net export in 1986 to a positive 2 trillion lb. in 2007.

“The growth of exports is good news for pork producers,” reports Glenn Grimes, an agricultural economist with the University of Missouri. “It has had a great impact on their income.”

The value of pork and pork by-product exports has increased from $1.97/hog slaughtered in 1986 to $28.91/hog slaughtered in 2007. These changes have enabled the pork industry to grow at an additional rate of about 0.8%/year on average over the last 22 years.

“In other words, the U.S. pork industry was about 18 million head larger in 2007 than it would have been had pork imports and exports remained at 1986 levels,” explains Grimes. “Not only has the increase in the quantity of pork traded allowed the industry to grow without lowering prices, but it has also added to producer’ incomes in the years when net exports grew.

“Based on our efforts to calculate the effect of imports and exports on the price of hogs between 1986 to 2007, we believe these estimates are conservative because they show that prices increased only in the year when net exports grew,” Grimes continues. “We assumed producers reacted to higher prices by increasing the U.S. herd enough to offset any price benefits from net export growth in the following years.”

Grimes says that total pork producer income grew by $7.4 billion over the last 22 years due to the increase in pork exports.

Pork producers have spent nearly $64 million promoting pork through the pork checkoff over the last 22 years.

“Pork producers can take credit for much of this export growth. They have improved the quality of pork, which has made it more competitive and funded promotional efforts,” says Grimes.