U.S. pork exports set a new volume record in 2016, reaching 2.31 million metric tons.
Record pork exports are thanks to a fifth consecutive record year for exports to Mexico. Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing, says Mexico is an especially strong destination for hams, but the U.S. industry ships a wide range of pork cuts to Mexico.
“It is our largest export market in terms of volume. It is a pretty broad mix of products that go down there; variety meats, feet, butts, boneless picnics, ribs, brisket bones, but the real key driver is hams. Well over half of the driver is hams.”
Halstrom adds that other Western Hemisphere markets also made important contributions to U.S. pork export growth in 2016.
“In Canada, the mix is pretty broad there as well. We got variety meats that go up there like pork hearts. That is a very big market for pork hearts. On the muscle cut side, we have two segments there. We have the raw material that goes into further processing and also have a pretty wide swath of fresh product that goes into retail. This complements the Mexico business quite well.”
Halstrom says Central American trends are very similar to Mexico.
“Starting to see some real penetration especially into the retail sector. All seven Central American markets saw growth year on year in 2016 and we are looking for that to continue into 2017.”
He says exports to Colombia came on very strong late in the year.