The pace of pork exports to China has slowed from record volumes recorded last year, but the country is still a key customer according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Through February, U.S. pork exports to China - including variety meat - totaled 137.7 million pounds valued at $122.3 million. For the China/Hong Kong region, exports totaled 172.4 million pounds valued at $158.2 million.
However, last fall, the Chinese government proposed rules that would require foreign food processing establishments to register with the country's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine by May 1. "When the rule was proposed last fall, we worked with the authorities," says Kevin Smith, export services director, USMEF.
That interaction with the government led to a decision last week that alters the requirement based on the country's prior approval of the USDA food safety program, all U.S. federally inspected red meat establishments - except those specifically delisted by China - will continue to be eligible to export to china after May 1.
According to Smith, the decision represents a positive outcome for the U.S. pork industry because it will not require a complicated, plant-by-plant registration process. Smith adds that while U.S. pork continues to face some market access challenges in China, ongoing discussions with regulatory officials in China have led to progress in some areas.
So far in 2012, the China/Hong Kong region ranks third among international destinations for U.S. pork in terms of both volume and value. Mexico is the leading volumne destination at 250 million pounds - up 20% over the same period last year. Japan is the pacesetter in terms of value - up 22% to $342 million.