Through the first five months of 2011, U.S. pork exports are up 16% in volume (916,763 metric tons) and 22% in value ($2.35 billion) over 2010. This is due in large part to exceptional results in South Korea, China and Japan. U.S. Meat Export Federation Economist Erin Daley Borror says that exports to Korea have already exceeded the totals achieved in the entire calendar year of 2010, in part because of a major swine herd culling due to foot-and-mouth disease.
"The U.S. is by far the leading supplier to Korea this year as they attempt to fill their shortage of pork," Daley Borror said. "Their opening of duty-free quotas for pork has given the U.S. the chance to really step up and we've captured about 47% of the Korean import market."
China also finds itself in a time of short hog supplies, which has had a major impact on the pork market. Daley Borror says that U.S. producers have been benefiting from incredibly high margins on many ofal items going to China such as feet and stomachs, which has helped packers be able to pay the high prices to producers.
Exports to Japan are coming off a record-setting value year in 2010, yet exports are up 18% to more than $790 million. She says that the demand for U.S. pork has remained strong through the earthquake and the ramifications resulting from it, with exports continuing at a rapid pace.
Daley Borror also notes that pork exports to Mexico, which is the largest volume market for U.S. pork, had slowed in April but rebounded strongly in May.
As a result, global exports are even running ahead of the all-time record pace set in 2008. If market conditions hold up reasonably well in the second half of the year, Daley Borror says U.S. pork export value will likely eclipse the $5 billion mark for the first time ever in 2011 (breaking the 2008 record of $4.88 billion).