A group of Iowa's future agriculture leaders got a firsthand look at the world's largest pork market when they traveled to China recently, joining in on U.S. Meat Export Federation program for the Chinese foodservice trade.
The group, 23members of the I-LEAD leadership training program developed by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Iowa Corn Growers Association were in China for an educational tour to better understand the challenges and opportunities that the country represents as an export market.
The group participated in a USMEF U.S. pork event in Guangzhou for about 50 regional restaurant managers and chefs representing 19 hotels and restaurants. The I-LEAD members helped personally reinforce the commitment to quality and safety by American producers for the seminar participants, USMEF says.
To put the China/Hong Kong pork market in perspective, the U.S. exported a record total of 385,214 metric tons of product there in 2012 valued at $832.5 million.
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Since the average person in China eats about 87 pounds of pork per year, that means the 950.5 million pounds of American pork sold there in 2012 accounted for only about eight-tenths of one percent of all pork consumed in China – or about enough pork to feed everyone in China for a three-day weekend.
That doesn't include China's potential as a beef market. Last year, China imported 693.2 million pounds of beef from countries around the globe valued at more than $1.3 billion – increases of 345% and 373%, respectively, over 2012. Unfortunately, U.S. beef remains ineligible for shipment to China.