Will Consumers Come Back to Pork? Yes!

It’s a little strange, but the numbers say that even while consumers in the United States have been pork consuming less pork over the last five years, pork production in the US has been ramping up. Its part of that push towards exports the Obama administration has been touting as a way out of the economic slump, and it also has a lot to do with the increasing taste for red meat in nations like China according to Purdue Extension Ag Economist Chris Hurt….

“There’s a saying; China is going to eat your lunch. And there’s some truth to that, China was the 6th largest buyer of US pork in 2006, and that represented about 5% of US pork exports. But, now they’ve moved up tot eh 3rd largest buyer, at least last year in 2011, representing not 5%, but 15% of US exports.”

China’s recent history, according to Hurt, has exhibited an inconsistent pattern of buying pork in the world market. As recently as 2006, China was a net exporter of pork, but, since 2007, they have been a net importer, but an inconsistent one….

“That inconsistency arises from them buying large amounts when they need pork, like in 2008, due to internal pork diseases, and of course the Olympics were in Beijing that year.”

What does it mean to the U.S. marketplace for 2012? Japan is the number one importer of U.S. pork, consistently buying up to 35 percent of the total production in this nation, with Mexico second at around 20 percent. Even with those impressive export numbers, Hurt feels pork consumption is poised to go higher in the US ….

“That pork expansion will be brought on by strong profitability which began back in the spring of 2011, and hopefully by moderating feed prices. And third, will be the very low levels of beef that will be available for the next several years and into 2015.”

Naturally, there is a caveat and it’s the price of corn and soybean products. For that reason, Hurt says the pork industry should view 2012 as a transition year to those more moderate feed prices that still depends on rebuilding corn and soybean inventories with more normal yields.

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