The U.S. red meat industry has achieved outstanding export growth in recent years, enhancing profitability for all members of the supply chain. In 2014, both beef exports ($7.13 billion) and pork exports ($6.67 billion) shattered previous records for export value. For pork, export value has increased in 15 of the past 20 years.
With regard to U.S. pork, the Chinese market is not entirely closed. The U.S. technically has access for a full range of pork and pork variety meat products (with the exception of processed products), and recently gained access for pork fat. But a significant percentage of U.S. pork production is ineligible to ship to China due to ractopamine use and other factors that conflict with China’s import requirements. This has made it very difficult to capitalize on significant growth opportunities in China that have emerged this year due to high domestic prices, and which are presently being captured by European suppliers.
China produces and consumes about half the world’s pork. And while it is largely self-sufficient in production, even a small fluctuation in China’s need for imported pork can shake up the global market. The U.S. industry has benefitted from these fluctuations in the past – especially in 2011 and 2012, when exports to China were very strong. But with the enforcement of its import requirements and only a small number of U.S. plants being eligible to serve China, we saw a major slowdown in the second half of last year. So far in 2015, exports are down nearly 50 percent from a year ago. In the meantime, EU export volume to China is more than one-third higher year-over-year.
Our lost opportunities in China span a wide range of product categories. China has been an excellent destination for large volumes of ears, feet, stomachs, snouts and other pork offal items, but we are also missing a chance to market pork muscle cuts to China’s rapidly growing processing, foodservice and retail sectors.
Thursday July 30, 2015/ USMEF/ United States.