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Hog Outlook: Maintaining current markets and entering new countries keeps demand strong for U.S. pork.

Kevin Schulz, Editor

February 14, 2022

3 Min Read
cuts of pork for sale at grocery meat counter
GETTING IN THE DOOR: Pork is a favorite animal protein around the globe, and great efforts are being made to get U.S. pork at the center of the plate for consumers around the world.Courtesy National Pork Board

Americans consume more than 50 pounds of pork per person each year, and while the U.S. consumer can always improve their pork intake, we need the rest of the world to place pork at the center of their plates.

According to the Pork Checkoff, in 2020 exports accounted for 29.3% of total U.S. pork and pork variety meat production. It is estimated that more than $58 of every hog sold in the U.S. can be attributed to export value.

On the world stage, China, which produces half the hogs in the world, is also consuming half of the world’s pork. In 2020, China and Hong Kong brought in 2.283 billion pounds of U.S. pork, according to the Pork Checkoff.

Top destinations for U.S. pork in 2020

U.S. pork reach

Skimming headlines tells how fickle the global situation can be. Free-flowing exports one minute can have trade gates slammed shut the next. That means continued work is needed to maintain the markets that currently welcome U.S. pork, while also creating new marketing partners.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, pork exports trended lower in December 2021, falling 17% from the previous year to 215,872 metric tons, valued at $604.3 million (down 12%). For 2021, export volume was 2.92 million mt, down 2% from the 2020 record, but export value still climbed 5% to a record $8.11 billion.

USMEF data shows that record pork exports to Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and the Philippines helped offset a decline in demand from China in 2021. Exports also increased to Japan and South Korea, including larger volumes of chilled pork. Global exports of U.S. pork variety meat set a new value record of $1.24 billion, up 19% year-over-year.

New pork partners

Drumming up new business for U.S. pork is, and should be, a continued mission for the pork industry. In January, U.S. pork made headway into new markets — India and Nigeria.

India, home to 1.26 billion people, has potential to be a huge market for U.S. pork, as the U.S. product will now be allowed import into India. Of course, not all people will eat pork, but a small percent of 1.26 billion people is still a big number.

Nigeria, with just over 211 million people, also offers a lot of potential new pork consumers. The National Pork Producers Council notes that Nigeria has the largest GDP of any African country, and pork is positioned well to garner that income by being the first U.S. protein in the market, exporting sausage and similar products. Other U.S. pork products, as well as beef and poultry, still remain ineligible for export to the African nation.

The global political landscape continues to include obstacles the U.S. pork industry needs to overcome, namely facing larger tariffs than those faced by competing countries. Breaking down these barriers will allow U.S. pork to become center of plate for consumers around the world, allowing them more access to the affordable, wholesome and nutritious product.

That is good for the world, and it’s good news for U.S. pork producers.

Schulz, a Farm Progress senior writer, grew up on the family hog farm in southern Minnesota, before a career in ag journalism, including National Hog Farmer.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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