The United States is the world’s largest pork exporter, and is expected to …

The United States is the world’s largest pork exporter, and is expected to dominate the global pork market over the next 10 years. This promising outlook comes as no surprise to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which works in international markets to increase demand for U.S. pork.

“Pork is the most widely consumed protein in the world, and U.S. pork has quality advantages that set it apart from the competition,” USMEF President and CEO Phil Seng said. “We communicate the U.S. pork story every day to importers, meat buyers and consumers, increasing awareness of U.S. pork’s nutrition value, safety and superior quality.”  

The latest Agricultural Outlook, produced each July by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that the U.S. share of global pork exports will approach 30 percent by 2016, and one in every 3.4 pounds of pork traded in the world will originate from the United States.

The past 15 years of record-breaking U.S. pork exports have supported growth in the industry, and this trend is expected to continue through the next decade. Tremendous efficiency gains, resulting in a 55 percent increase in pork production per breeding hog over the past 15 years, helped position the U.S. industry as the leading global supplier.

“Along with the U.S. pork industry, we realize this past success is not a time to rest on our laurels,” said Seng. “We must use the superior qualities of U.S. pork to our advantage to position it above the competition to continue export growth.”

International consumers have a growing preference for safe, consistent, high quality and affordable U.S. pork. U.S. producers understand the value of exports, as exports have grown from just 7 percent of production in 2000 to more than 15 percent today, and an anticipated 20 percent of production in 2016.

“Consumers in South Korea, for example, can purchase U.S. pork at a lower cost than domestic product, but are not sacrificing product quality,” Seng said. “Export markets provide a higher return to U.S. pork producers on selected products than if those products were sold domestically.”

The relatively weak U.S. dollar, especially compared to other major pork producing regions, has stimulated demand for U.S. pork. The euro has been trading at record highs against the U.S. dollar, and similar situations exist with the Canadian dollar, Brazilian real and Chilean peso. U.S. currency depreciation is expected to continue in the near term.

The EU-27 is expected to be the second largest pork exporter, but Brazil’s exports are anticipated to have the fastest growth rate and surpass the EU-27 by 2016. Disease status will be the largest variable in Brazil’s actual export growth. Brazil still faces foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) restrictions in Russia, its largest pork export market. However, Brazil is expected to export more than 26 percent of its production and have 18 percent of global pork export market share by 2016.

EU-27 exports are expected to slow due to a number of factors affecting the community, including growth in domestic demand, rising feed and other input costs, costly environmental and animal welfare regulations and the relatively strong euro.

EU-27 exports as a percent of production are expected to decline to 5 percent over the outlook period, while market share is expected to fall from 26 percent to 18 percent. The outlook projects EU-27 production and consumption remaining relatively stable, while the European Commission’s (EC) own estimates show production increasing just 3.2 percent from 2006 to 2014. The EC also expects per capita consumption to increase by just over 3 percent over the same time period. 

Canadian exports in 2016 are expected to be 2 percent lower than its 2006export volume, with exports falling from 46 percent of production to 38 percent over the next 10 years. Canada’s share of global exports is expected to fall from 20 percent in 2006 to 15.6 percent in 2016 as the industry is not expected to recover from recent losses due to the strong Canadian dollar and high labor and feed costs. 

“Under NAFTA, U.S. pork trade with Canada has increased,” Seng said. “Canada currently is our third largest market for pork exports, as U.S. exporters are using the weak U.S. dollar to their advantage.”

Looking at imports, Japan is expected to remain the No. 1 pork-importing country, accounting for one-quarter of global pork imports.

“In Japan, we have been successful with our latest consumer campaign of making U.S. pork an everyday protein source,” said Seng. “This consumer education has helped position Japan as the top export market for U.S. pork.”

Other major pork importing countries are Russia at 11 percent, Mexico at 8 percent and South Korea at 5 percent of global pork exports.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, lamb, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.