U.S. pork exports up, free trade challenges loom
While U.S. pork exports remained competitive in the world market in 2004, analysts warn that free trade agreements will intensify the competition between American and overseas producers in the years ahead.
“Free trade agreements can be positive in opening markets, but they also can be negative because they provide exclusive access for specific countries,” Philip M. Seng, president and chief executive officer for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, told attendees at the March 5 National Pork Industry Forum in Orlando, Fla.
“Competition is also intensifying in these markets,” Seng said. “When I went to Japan 20 years ago there were only four countries trying to export pork there and today there is around 20.”
Brazil has emerged as a global meat exporter, increasing from 2 percent of the world pork trade in 1994 to 15 percent in 2003. Canada and Denmark, the top two competitors of U.S. pork, continue to push aggressive promotion programs in Japan and other markets, while China has the potential to turn the world’s largest pork production base into a top global seller, Seng said.
Meanwhile, U.S. pork exports continue to climb. For the first time in 2004, the U.S. pork industry exported more than 1 million metric tons of pork products, valued at more than $2 billion. Mexico was the largest growth area for U.S. pork exports last year, up 65 percent over 2003 in volume, with 361,587 metric tons, and 92 percent in value with $566.5 million. Japan led in value with $978.5 million, up 25 percent, and with a volume of 313,574 metric tons, up 16 percent, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.