May U.S. pork exports were up 3% in volume from a year ago and 9% higher in value at $524.3 million, according to USMEF calculations on data released by the USDA .
Through the first five months of the year, pork exports exceeded last year's record pace by 6% in volume and 15% in value.
Pork export value surges in most major markets
With the exceptions of South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, U.S. pork export value is trending upward to every major destination. Exports to Korea were extremely high in 2011, due in part to a foot-and-mouth disease-related shortage of domestic pork and temporary duty-free access for a large volume of imports. U.S. exports to Korea through May stood at 77,790 metric tons valued at $222.8 million, down 32% in volume and 19% in value from last year's record pace, but still far exceeding exports in the first five months of any previous year.
Mexico continues to perform well as the leading volume destination for U.S. pork, and ranks No. 2 in value. While May exports to Mexico were about even with last year, exports through the first five months of the year were 15% higher in volume (254,059 metric tons) and 13% higher in value ($463.6 million). USMEF recently launched a campaign to build overall demand in Mexico by enhancing the image of pork and broadening its appeal among Mexican consumers.
"USMEF has reached agreements with several major supermarket chains in Mexico - totaling more than 500 outlets - to help USMEF promote pork through advertising and point-of-sale materials and to collect important sales data for evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign," explained USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. "Per capita pork consumption in Mexico is only about 25 pounds per year, compared to 47 pounds in the United States. So we feel there is still great potential for expansion of overall demand, with the U.S. industry positioned to be the primary beneficiary."
Japan remains the leading value destination for U.S. pork, with exports through May reaching $869.1 million. This is 10% above last year's record pace, despite a 5% decline in volume (199,061 metric tons).