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Analyst: Look south for growth in U.S. pork exports

With sales to China waning, the growth markets for U.S. pork exports will be in Central and South America, said economist Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends. Mexico accounted for 22¢ of every $1 in pork exports last year, and eight other Latin American nations are set to become major customers for U.S. pork.

“There are two really good growth markets and one is Mexico,” said Stuart during a National Pork Board webinar. Mexico imports the largest tonnage of U.S. pork of any country, but usually ranks second or third in dollar value of sales. Stuart pointed to eight countries — Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Chile, Dominican Republic, and Colombia — in which free trade agreements were removing tariff-rate quotas on U.S. pork.

“Just south of us here is potentially another Mexican growth market,” said Stuart. “And I think we may hit a billion dollars to this group by 2022. So when you say, what are our growth markets, here’s one that hasn’t gained attention that I think is significant.”

The eight nations have a combined population of 128 million, compared to Mexico’s 130 million, said Stuart. “When we don’t have tariffs and quotas, we export a lot of pork.”

One quarter of U.S. pork production, 7.03 billion pounds, was exported last year, according to USDA data. The USDA estimates exports will drop to 6.81 billion pounds this year, in step with a small decline in pork production.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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