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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Consumers across the globe are gaining positive experiences with U.S. pork in view of U.S. pork posting 14 straight years of record-breaking exports through 2005, followed by increased volume exports in the first half of 2006, according to the National Pork Board (NPB) here.
From January 2006 through July 2006, the volume of total U.S. pork exports, measured in actual product weight, increased nearly 10 percent when compared with the same period in 2005. At the same time, total U.S. pork export value increased nearly 4 percent.
The major growth markets, as a percentage increase in volume for the same period, compared with the same period in 2005, were Russia, at 99 percent; Hong Kong, at 92 percent; South Korea, at 57 percent; and Taiwan, at 31 percent. Mexico had strong growth, at 20 percent, and Canada's percentage increase in volume was 6 percent.
Approximately 75 percent of year-to-date U.S. pork exports were fresh, chilled, or frozen cuts of pork. The most growth occurred in exports of fresh/chilled pork cuts. Japan, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and Russia were the largest markets for U.S. fresh/chilled pork exports (about 83 percent of U.S. fresh/chilled pork export volume in January-July 2006).
Though recently released export data for July 2006 revealed a year-over-year decline in pork exports, experts advise not to be too alarmed. Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, Inc. said: "There are several factors to consider when looking at the slight dip in pork exports to Japan for July. First, U.S. pork prices rose significantly in late May and June. It's quite possible that the quick increase in product prices cooled some orders."
The second point, says Meyer, is that Japan's imports of chicken from the United States nearly doubled in June and July vs. one year ago. "A plausible explanation for the increased imports from the U.S. is that Japanese consumers' fear of avian flu has subsided somewhat. There were a number of human deaths from avian flu in late 2004 and early 2005 in Asia."
Meyer further said that exports can't reach record-breaking status all the time. "The U.S. pork industry has had an unbelievable run of export growth, and year-to- date shipments, on a carcass-weight basis, are still 12.4 percent larger than last year. We have already shipped more pork products overseas this year than we did in all of 2003."