In the first half of 2006, U.S. pork exports increased nearly 10% in volume compared to the same period in 2005, while export value increased close to 4%. Once July came, the growth cooled, as export data for July shows a year over year decline.
Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, says not to get too worried about the July dip, offering several explanations: "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," he says. He also points out the disruptions caused the past two years by the surge of U.S. chicken products to Japan due to the Japanese fear of avian flu in Asian birds.
Besides, he points out, "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 are still 12.4% larger than last year. We have already shipped more pork products overseas this year than we did in all of 2003."
The top growth markets for the first half of 2006 compared to the same period in 2005 include: Russia, with a 99% increase from the first half of 2005; Hong Kong at 192%; South Korea at 57%; Taiwan at 31%; and Mexico at 20%. Canada's imports also went up 6%.
About 75% of recent year-to-date U.S. pork exports were fresh, chilled or frozen cuts, with the most growth occurring in exports of fresh/chilled pork cuts.