Researching ways to expand export opportunities continues to be a top priority for U.S. pork producers, which is why a recent U.S. delegation participated in an extensive trade mission to China.

“As the No. 1 consumer of pork and with nearly 20 percent of the world’s population living in China, the Chinese market offers great opportunities for U.S. pork producers,” said Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff.

The goal of the trade mission was to learn how to improve trade and build relationships between producers, importers and processing companies. The delegation took part in the U.S.-China Swine Industry Symposium, a collaborative event co-sponsored by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and other agricultural organizations from both China and the United States. Held in Beijing, the symposium — “Is Bigger Better?” — focused on changes and challenges faced by pork producers, processors and other members of the pork supply chain.

“Kudos to USMEF and its staff in Asia for a well-organized mission. We were able to meet with many top decision-makers, including company presidents and CEOs, and we picked up a lot of good information,” said National Pork Board  CEO Chris Hodges.

“We discussed trade opportunities and obstacles and the great potential for deep ties between the Chinese and the U.S.” Hodges said. “I’ve been talking with producers and packers about these meetings, along with the topics discussed at the Swine Industry Symposium, since I returned to the United States.”

The symposium included the exchange of information on issues such as food safety, food security and sustainability. U.S. producers and agricultural officials at the symposium came to a common conclusion: Chinese pork producers today find themselves in a place that is familiar to U.S. producers from the 20th century.

Look for more information about the China trade mission in the winter 2015 Pork Checkoff Report magazine.