In mid-October, the U.S. Trade Representative announced intent to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, thus creating optimism for agricultural trade. After the October 1st announcement of the United States, Mexico, and Canada (USMCA) trilateral trade agreement, direct impacts for the U.S. pork industry remain to be seen as the agreement awaits approval from Congress.

September pork exports were led by strong demand for U.S. pork in Korea and South America with exports to Korea up 33 percent by volume and 30 percent by value from last year. For January-September, pork and pork variety meat exports were up 43 percent by volume and 48 percent by value for Korea. The Korean market continues to excel and exceed expectations for U.S. pork exports with the January-September value already exceeding the 2017 year-end total. South America saw strong growth led by Colombia and Peru. Exports to the region were up 27 percent by volume and 22 percent higher by value for the year. Exports to Japan were up 2 percent by both volume and value for the year with U.S. market share of Japan’s total imports holding relatively steady. However, Japan’s imminent trade agreements as part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement that are set to be implemented in the coming months, U.S. pork will be at a disadvantage in its leading value market. Exports to China/Hong Kong have declined by 26 percent by volume and 14 percent by value compared to last year. As the leading destination for pork variety meats, exports to this region have suffered. U.S. pork to Mexico remains fairly constant despite added tariffs.

U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to China and Mexico
Source: USMEF

Global Pork Outlook

  • From the most recent quarterly Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade report, global production is forecast up 1 percent in 2019 to 114.6 million tons on continued expansion in China and the United States. The global economy continues to grow, boosting demand for pork in most countries. Production is forecast 1 percent higher in China as a larger sow herd and improvements in productivity boost the pig supply. However, the recent discovery of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China has impacted hog movement and prices, resulting in a slower rate of expansion relative to last year. EU production will decline marginally as lower hog prices and higher feed costs will drive a small reduction in the breeding herd.
  • Global exports are forecast almost 3 percent higher in 2019 driven by strong global demand. The European Union will remain the top exporter, buoyed by higher demand in Asia, especially China. Brazil’s exports will rebound as growth to China and Hong Kong offset the loss of previous top market Russia. Import demand will also strengthen in Latin America, as favorable prices and changing preferences boost per-capita pork consumption. Mexico’s imports are forecast 5 percent higher and Colombia 29 percent higher on robust demand. South Korea’s imports will decline as near-record expected imports during 2018 are expected to lead to high stocks.
  • U.S. production and exports: Production is forecast up 5 percent in 2019 on higher hog slaughter and heavier carcass weights. Despite lower hog prices this year, producers intend to farrow more hogs during 2019, driven by substantial investments in production capacity over the past 2 years. Lower pork prices and steady gains in global pork demand will drive exports nearly 4 percent higher in 2019, following 6-percent growth in 2018. Retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork will limit U.S. shipments to China, but lower prices are expected to propel growth to top market Mexico.
  • African Swine Fever (ASF): Despite the Chinese government’s control efforts, the spread of African swine fever continues. The official report from the World Health Organization (OIE) declares more than 50 confirmed cases in 14 provinces in China, including provinces in the far south of the country. Despite this geographic advance, some pig movement has been allowed to help with China’s domestic demand for pork. NPB has formed a special task force of experts and senior NPB staff to further prepare. International Marketing has a prominent role on this task force and will be re-examining our previously compiled FAD crisis plan and coordinating with our strategic partners on response efforts. Stay up-to-date with all things related to FAD at pork.org/fad.

U.S. Pork Highlights

Total Pork Exports

  • September
    • Pork Exports: 323 million pounds
    • Pork variety meat (PVM) Exports: 72.5 million pounds
    • Pork and PVM Exports: 395.5 million pounds
  •  January – September
    • Pork Exports: 3.2 billion pounds, +6 percent
    • PVM Exports: 777.6 million pounds, -14 percent
    • Pork and PVM Exports: 4 billion pounds, +1 percent

Value of Pork Exports

  • September
    • Export value per head: $48.72
      • Pork: $397.6 million
      • PVM: $72.6 million
      • Pork and PVM: $470.2 million
  • January – September
    • Export value per head: $52.46
      • Pork: $3.977 billion, +3 percent
      • PVM: $812.5 million, -5 percent
      • Pork and PVM: $4.789 billion, +2 percent
Total U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports for 2018
Source: USMEF

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, there is continued focus and optimism for ratification of the new U.S. Mexico Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement and further negotiation of trade agreements with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Similar to the new USMCA trade agreement, the impacts on U.S. pork exports through bilateral trade agreements with the aforementioned countries remains to be seen. As previously reported, exports to Korea continue to exceed expectations and remains a bright spot for U.S. pork in international markets. In September, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to Korea reached 379 million pounds (up 43 percent) and were valued at $489 million (up 48 percent) year-to-date. NPB remains committed to diversification of our export markets to ensure long-term success of U.S. pork in the global market.