DES MOINES – Iowa Department of Economic Development and Iowa's pork and beef industries officials are participating in a trade mission to Mexico this week in hopes of expanding Iowa meat exports in that country. Behind Canada, Mexico is Iowa's No. 2 export market. In the first 11 months of 2010, exports from Iowa to Mexico totaled $1.64 billion. Iowa's leading exports to Mexico are soybeans, corn, dried distillers grains, corn syrup and meat.

"This trade mission will help build on Iowa's success in trading with Mexico and continue to strengthen our partnership," said Debi Durham, IDED director. "Mexico remains a key destination for many Iowa products, and helping Iowa companies find new outlets for their products means more jobs here at home."

The delegation consists of members from IDED, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

The Iowa delegation plans to visit Mexico City and Guadalajara. Meetings with Mexican meat company officials, a briefing on Mexico's market for pork and beef products, tours of Mexican supermarkets, and visits to a wet market, butcher shops and a meat cutting and packing plant are among the planned highlights. In Guadalajara, the Iowa delegation will host a reception for Mexican meat processors who may be interested in importing products. In Mexico City, the delegation will meet with a national meat trade association.

This trade mission follows an announcement that Iowa pork exports hit a record high in the first 11 months of 2010. Iowa companies exported more than $1 billion in pork products over that time period, the highest level in Iowa's history.

This spring, a delegation of Mexican meat buyers is scheduled to travel to Iowa to meet with Iowa meat suppliers.