Record Exports

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U.S. pork exports recorded their highest-ever monthly value in November. According to Pork Checkoff vice president of international marketing Craig Morris, 2017 will be a record year for exports. That momentum is also expected to continue into 2018.


Don Wick


Craig Morris, Vice President of International Marketing, National Pork Board




Don Wick:  00:04  From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod.  Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff.  And today our guest is Craig Morris, who is the Vice President of International Marketing for the National Pork Board. And the latest USDA export data is released, highlighting the exports from January through November. And Craig, some very positive numbers we’re finding in this report, tell us.

Craig Morris:  0:37  Record year!  We know we’re going to break five point four billion pounds in the foreign market. We know that will be the first year ever that we’ve broke the 1 billion dollar mark in variety meat export. We’ve got one month to go, that one month is going to have the Chinese buying as they come up on their new year. So we’re expecting a strong December. So we’re excited to see how high those records continue to grow because we know we had really good export  of variety meats into China in November. I think November was a record month for us ever.   Over 650 million dollars just in the month.  I think 130 million of that was in variety meats to China alone, which is just unbelievable.

Don Wick:  01:18  Obviously a very strong year, but finishing the year strong too.

Craig Morris:  01:21  Absolutely right. We’ve been really excited with how strong the year has ended up for pork exports. I think it’s giving us a lot of optimism going into 2018, a year that we know we’re going to really depend on the export market to help carry producer profitability.

Don Wick:  01:38  No doubt, with large supplies that we’re dealing with. You mentioned China. Let’s focus on that a bit more if we could.  How important is that market been for U.S. pork in 2017?

Craig Morris:  01:48  Well there’s two markets, China and Mexico, that really carry the load for us on variety meats.  And variety meats are one of the things that everyone knows that we don’t eat a lot of here, but we need somebody to eat them and pay high dollar for them.  And they pay more for variety meat, many variety meats in China than they pay for a pork loin. So we really do focus on that particular commodity quite a bit because we know if we’re not exporting it, the alternative value of that product here at home isn’t very good. And so that’s one of the things that we know puts a lot of money in producer pockets. I think the number that we’ve got through the November data is that variety meats alone put some nine dollars 55 cents into every hog. So that’s an important metric and exports in total,  I think we’re at like fifty three dollars per head. But those variety meats are really important.

Don Wick:  02:41  That’s huge.   As far as the chilled product, Japan’s one of our key markets.  Does continue to be the way we’re sitting?

Craig Morris:  02:51  Absolutely!  Japan is, and remains, our number one market in terms of value, in terms of dollars. We put fully through our partner at the US Meat Export Federation, 37 percent of the dollars that we give to USMEF, we target towards that Japanese market. We know it’s a mature market.  Imports into that country have been moving up. The United States though is seeing a lot of competition from the other markets that are shipping in there. So we really want to hold really that market as best we can. In 2018, I think we’re doing everything we can to preserve it. As you pointed out, chilled pork is a high value product and we’re going to try to do everything we can to make sure that the Japanese continue to be a strong buyer of that from us.

Don Wick:  03:31  Are we seeing other countries that are rising to the top as far as the demand for US pork?

Craig Morris:  03:39  Well obviously Mexico has been a game changer. You know we’re seeing in Mexico almost a demand shift, a pattern shift.  Consumers in Mexico are just eating more pork today than they used to, and the United States has really been the way that they’ve gotten on that path. So we ship a considerable amount of, not only as we mentioned variety meats, but hams, {inaudible} hams, hams that haven’t been processed at all.  We are shipping those into Mexico and that’s been wonderful.   Korea, South Korea been a market that we’ve seen consumers eat more pork and the United States has been a big part of getting more pork on their plate. So we’ve got really a lot of exciting things going on in a variety of markets, not just the established ones.

Don Wick:  04:21  Do you see this momentum continuing and as we go into this new year?

Craig Morris:  04:24  Absolutely, I do!  And I think it has to.  As you mentioned all the pork that we’ve got coming on online. We have really no choice but to focus on those export markets and that’s why the board increased its investment in international marketing.  We are up 9 percent and our investment year over year. And we’re going to do everything we can this year to make sure the producers remain profitable. And that’s because we know the only way that’s going to happen is with a strong export market.

Don Wick:  04:47  Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit