The strength of U.S. pork exports was seen across the board so far this year, with only two major markets (Mexico and the ASEAN region) showing any slippage from last year. In Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, exports were up 19 percent in volume and 17 percent in value for the first two months of 2011 to 74,498 metric tons valued at $280.3 million. In addition, Japanese import data show the U.S. market share increased to 45.5 percent of all imported pork – up from 43.2 percent a year ago.
In Mexico – the top export market in volume – the modest 5 percent decline in export volume and 3 percent slip in value from year-ago levels is understandable as higher U.S. pork prices limit growth potential. Even at that, exports to Mexico for the January-February period stand 71 percent higher in volume (94,883 metric tons) and 95 percent higher in value ($168 million) than the global record year of 2008.
The growth leader for U.S. pork exports in February was South Korea, which purchased a record 19,532 metric tons valued at $49.2 million as that nation continues to deal with product shortages driven by a major outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD). Monthly export totals to Korea jumped 154 percent in volume and 227 percent in value versus February 2010. For the first two months of 2011, South Korea has purchased 32,715 metric tons of U.S. pork valued at $81.3 million – increases of 143 percent and 198 percent, respectively.