US capitalizes on Mexico's need for pork

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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DENVER – The US pork industry competes fiercely for market share with domestic products, as well as with other pork-exporting countries, in some top destinations for US pork. But Mexico has a totally different business climate than other nations. Its pork industry struggles mightily to satisfy domestic demand, but simultaneously it is also looking to expand exports to Asia and other global markets.

This scenario offers an opportunity for the US pork industry, particularly since it holds about 90 percent of Mexico’s imported pork market. Canada has captured about 8 percent of that market; all other exporting countries divide the remaining 2 percent.

In recent years, the US industry has capitalized on this opportunity, as US pork exports to Mexico – including variety meat – have skyrocketed from $514 million in 2005 to nearly $1 billion in 2010. This year could see another record value total; exports through September totaled $741 million.

But Chad Russell, US Meat Export Federation regional director, who is based in Mexico City, said the biggest strategy to increase export growth is to expand per capita consumption of all pork in Mexico. Although per capita consumption in Mexico has grown in recent years, it totals about 33 lbs. per year, compared to about 60 lbs. per year in the US.

Russell said in a recent address to US pork producers and exporters if significant growth in total Mexican pork consumption can be achieved, the US industry will be the primary beneficiary. This growth strategy also makes for better trade relations with Mexico, as it is less threatening to domestic producers and processors, he added.

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