Audio: Growth in Mexico Helps Fuel Record Year for U.S. Pork Exports

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U.S. pork exports set a new volume record in 2016, reaching 2.31 million metric tons, thanks in part to a fifth consecutive record year for exports to Mexico. Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing, explains that Mexico is an especially strong destination for hams, but the U.S. industry ships a wide range of pork cuts to Mexico.

Halstrom adds that other Western Hemisphere markets also made important contributions to U.S. pork export growth in 2016. Exports to Canada were higher year-over-year, shipments to Central America were record-large and after a slow start, exports to Colombia came on very strong late in the year.


Joe Schuele: Final results are in and 2016 was a record year for U.S. pork export volume. In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, Senior Vice President for Marketing Dan Halstrom discusses some of the markets that drove that record performance.

Dan Halstrom: 2016 was the fifth consecutive year of record growth in Mexico, up 2 percent from a year ago. It is our largest export market in terms of volume. It’s a pretty broad mix of products that go down there – variety meats, feet, butts, boneless picnics, ribs brisket bones – but the real key driver is the hams, well over half the volume is hams. Currently the value of hams, if you look at the cut-out value, is up about 8 percent year-on-year, and that’s in the face of record production. So I would argue that this ham business to Mexico is one of the primary drivers of that.

Joe Schuele: Halstrom notes that growth was also achieved in other key Western Hemisphere markets.

Dan Halstrom: In Canada, the mix is pretty broad there, as well. You’ve got variety meats that go up there, pork hearts, very, very big market for pork hearts. On the muscle cut side we really have two segments there. We have the raw material that goes into further processing, and we also have a pretty wide swatch of fresh product that goes into retail. So this compliments the Mexico business quite well. In the Central America region, a lot of the trend lines are very similar to Mexico, and we’re starting to see some real penetration, especially in the retail sector. All seven markets in Central America saw growth year-on-year in 2016, and we’re looking at that continuing in 2017, as well. Another key market is Colombia down in South America. It started out slow in 2016, they had large domestic production and a weak Colombian peso, but the last part of the year saw dramatic growth, and for the year we were up 7 percent at 44,000 metric tons. A very, very key market for some of the further processing items.

Joe Schuele: For more, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.