US pork export value shined in 2010

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER – During 2010, US pork exports overcame several obstacles to perform very well – especially in terms of per-unit value – according to Philip Seng, US Meat Export Federation president and CEO. With November and December results still to be reported, US pork export value (including variety meat) is running 9% higher than in 2009 at $3.9 billion, while export volume (3.43 billion lbs.) is about 2% higher.

This value pace is about 3% lower than in 2008, when US pork export value shattered its all-time record and finished the year at nearly $4.9 billion. Although 2010 exports will likely fall short of this total, it will still be the second-highest year for total export value and will exceed 2008 in terms of per-unit value (about $1.14 per lb. versus $1.08).

“I think this year vs. 2009, we have done well on the value side of it,” Seng said. “We’ve done well in Mexico and Japan, as far as the value increase. The other thing we should feel very good about is when we take a look at 2010, we had interruptions in China and Russia, two very important markets to us. I think as some of these issues abate, by going forward we hopefully actually have a reasoned and smoother go at it when it comes to exports in 2011. That’s going to be of huge interest to us as we go forward.”

Even with this year’s rising prices and increasing competition from poultry, Seng said US pork performed remarkably well in price-sensitive markets, such as Mexico, Central and South America and the Philippines.

“I think they held up extremely well and I say this in light of the fact there has been this huge change as it relates to poultry,” he added. “When you take a look at China and also what’s happening with Russia this year and the fact that a lot of American poultry that used to go to those markets are going to Mexico and other parts of the world – for us to be able to increase the value component of our pork in light of those developments is remarkable.

“So, it’s not only how are we doing with pork exports going overseas, but there are local conditions in these markets,” Seng continued. “You take a look at the duty situation and you take a look at all of these other factors combined , there’s a lot that can impact. On the whole, we’ve been very steady as far as increasing our share of these markets.”
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