US shipments of pork to recently prised-open markets China and Hong Kong are roaring. Collectively, pork exports to the two Asian states increased by 84% in volume and 73% in value – that’s 50,374 metric tonnes (mt) worth a cool $98.8m.
Pork trade with China eased a little in June as the world’s juggernaut economy slowed to an annual growth rate of 6.9%. Nevertheless, statistics from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), showed pork exports are booming, ending the first six months 80% stronger than last year.
But US-Mexican trade continued to suffer from currency volatility –among other issues – which saw trade fall by 13% in June, compared to the same period a year ago.
Long-term growth plans
Six-month trading figures show an 8% drop in volume, while value fell to just over half a billion dollars. However, USMEF expects Mexican trade to rebound in the second half of 2016. And, at any rate, the US has eggs in many baskets.
“New opportunities for US pork were developed in China [and] Hong Kong over the past year, and the inroads we made with importers and other key buyers in the region will pay long-term dividends,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF.
“But it is important to recognise the shift in market conditions in China, which means growth in other key markets, is essential to achieving a successful second half in 2016.”
Other key US pork markets
Central America: $72.5m
Dave Warner, communications director at the National Pork Producers Council, said exports had grown over the past 27 years thanks to the government’s determination to push through free trade agreements, which started with Canada in 1988.
“With each subsequent FTA, our exports have jumped up. In fact, we now export more pork to the 20 countries with which the US has FTAs than to the rest of the world [combined] – the other 178 countries.”
The US is exploring a number of free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as pork-specific deals with India and Argentina.
The USDA believes exports to Pacific Rim nations – countries that boarder the Pacific Ocean – will be strong growth markets, with Japan building a head of steam. Frozen pork products tailed off from January to June and, ultimately, offset revenue in America’s most lucrative pork market, with value falling by 10% to $749m. But with record levels of fresh pig meat swaggering into the market, US meat companies were bullish about future trade.