by Claire Masker

top 5 export markets by volumeAfter a tough performance in 2015, U.S. pork exports showed impressive progress in 2016. Last year, 5.1 billion pounds of pork and pork variety meats valued at $5.94 billion were exported, up 8 percent and 7 percent respectively from 2015, according to USDA.

On average, 2016 U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total pork production. Export value returned an average of $50.20 per head to producers. More than 110 countries imported U.S. pork in 2016.

“While sales of U.S. pork were strong last year, we still face challenges from increased global competition and a stronger U.S. dollar,” said Becca Nepple, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The Checkoff is committed to growing U.S. pork exports through additional promotions with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).”

The National Pork Board recently approved a 12.7 percent budget increase for 2017 export promotions, which is especially important with the ample U.S. pork supplies, noted Bill Luckey, chair of the Pork Checkoff’s International Trade Committee and a pork producer from Columbus, Nebraska

“Our domestic market cannot absorb the total increase in U.S. pork supplies that will be available in 2017,” Luckey said. “The key for pork producers is to increase exports.”

This year, promotions will focus on displacing other proteins and competitors and on larger pork cuts, as well as targeting emerging and developing markets, Nepple said.

“Pork is the meat of choice around the globe, and we want to capitalize on that to grow our market share,” Nepple said. “Checkoff-funded activities remain important in maintaining and increasing pork exports around the globe.”

Highlights of promotions conducted with the USMEF in 2016 are featured on the facing page.

chart comparing developed, emerging and minor export markets