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U.S. pork at disadvantage in Australian market

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American’s consumed an average of 64.4 lbs. of pork in 2017, according to Pork Checkoff’s statistics. While this is not much of an increase from recent years statistics, it is a great deal of difference from decades ago. The same can be said for Australia, as their consumption has steadily increased in the last five years.

Australia has become one of the world’s largest pork importers. Joel Haggard, senior vice president for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), provided an update on Australia’s role in the pork industry.

“For the first four months of 2019, the pace of U.S. shipments was up 37-percent,” Haggard said. “Australia has it’s images of beef nation. But over two years ago, something interesting happened. Government statistics were showing the average Australian consumed just under 28 kg of pork, slightly aging out per capita beef consumption, which has been in long-term decline. And that 28 kilos of pork consumption is more than double the amount the average Australian consumed in 1975.”

Pork imports continue to climb in Australia, but Haggard says there is one factor hindering the growth of U.S. pork down under.

“Most, if not all of the pork that is sold in supermarkets in Australia is from domestic sources. It’s estimated that 70-percent of ham and bacon consumed in Australia’s process uses imported product. Australian import requirements demand that U.S. pork be cooked before it is sold in the Australian marketplace. Until that issue is resolved, the U.S. will be unable to get fresh pork on [Australia’s] supermarket shelves,” Haggard said.

Haggard attributes the change in meat selection to diversification in Australia’s population.

“This reflects diet diversification, which in turn reflects change in population demographics,” Haggard said. “2016 census data showed, among new arrivals in Australia, persons born in Asia outnumbered those from Europe for the first time ever.”

According to USMEF, the end goal is to create both fresh and frozen options for Australians looking to purchase U.S. pork.

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