Pork Exports Remain on Record Pace

U.S. pork exports fell below year ago levels in June, but remain on a record pace for 2020. National Pork Board Director of International Marketing Clay Eastwood says this is a positive report considering the influence of COVID-19.

“For the month of June, pork exports were down three percent compared to a year ago. But, in terms of volume and value, for volume, we’re actually up 24 percent year-to-date, and 29 percent year-to-date on value. So, even though June was down a little bit in terms of numbers, we still see that those exports are on record pace for the year. We’ve continued to see trends higher to places like China and Hong Kong, places like the Caribbean, Honduras and Taiwan, but we have seen shipments trend lower to places in some of our bigger markets, like Mexico, Japan, South Korea and South America. But really, we see that pace continuing for the rest of the year and hope that starts to pick back up.”

Processing capacity was interrupted this spring, but the supply chain is beginning to normalize. The export picture has a significant impact on the bottom line for pig farmers.

“Exports accounted for 24 percent of total pork production in June, and that’s over 31 percent for the first half of the year. When we talk about export value per head, for the month of June, we saw the export value per head at over $46, which is down significantly from the highs that we saw in the April and May data. But still, for the first half of the year, we see that export value per head at over $63. That number is up 27 percent from 2019, and so, again, really hope to see the second half of the year, some of these exports really start to pick up and materialize in terms of producer return.”

The Pork Checkoff partners with the U.S. Meat Export Federation for international market development. Eastwood says this is a valuable partnership.

“They’ve really been able to pivot and be agile in a really challenging time. And a couple of examples of that in markets that are really valuable for U.S. pork like Japan and Mexico, in Japan they’ve been reaching their consumers by doing daily Instagram cooking demonstrations. In Mexico they’ve been doing some different online-virtual platforms where they are promoting new ways of grilling pork. So, we’re really proud of the work that they are doing there and being able to adapt to a challenging time.”

As always, pork checkoff-funded information is available at pork.org.