Comparing three- and five-year averages demonstrates how the global COVID-19 pandemic changed the game, but we’re now seeing a reemergence of getting back to the “new normal” for exports.

According to the 2022 year-end data, exports of pork and pork products surpassed $7.6 billion dollars and 2.6 million metric tons. Those exports added $61.26 to the value of each hog marketed and represented 27.5% of production.

U.S. Pork Export Value

Total value of global U.S. Pork exports in 2022 compared to the 3-year and 5-year average.

Value of Exports to the U.S. Pork Industry

Strong export performance indicates we are getting more value for our products in international markets, growing pork consumption overall, and successfully differentiating U.S. Pork from pork of other origins.  Our domestic and international markets create a nice synergy that allows for our products to be sold at the greatest value for every part of the pig, every day.

2022 variety meat exports were the second largest on record at more than 530,000 mt, while export value was a record-high at $1.27 billion. These products are continuing to add value to the cutout, which helps with overall profitability and market diversification for producers.

Economic analyses consistently illustrate the net positive effect of increased exports on the U.S. pork industry. The Pork Checkoff has developed an international market development strategy to build confidence in U.S. pork in a diverse global protein market. We look for areas to differentiate U.S. pork from competitors and add value and opportunity into other markets.

Diversification is Key

The U.S. pork industry exports to almost 100 countries in any given year. For instance, China’s reduction in overall imports reduced the pork trade almost 10% globally in 2022 so access and sales to markets in the western hemisphere and Asia are key.

The NPB team continues to keep a pulse on disruptions around the globe — from China being on lockdown, the war in Ukraine and the spread of African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases. While these are challenges, we also see them as opportunities for new demand and always as a reminder about the importance of keeping out any trade-limiting disease out of our country.

Partnerships Expand Capabilities

Strategic work across the globe relies on strategic partnerships. We intend to sustain and grow global demand for U.S. pork and pork products through coordination between industry organizations and partnerships with U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as supplemental research and economic analysis.

USMEF is our flagship partner because of their on the ground presence in our focal markets and their strong relationship with importers, further processors, retailers and foodservice. This partnership creates a strong return on investment for U.S. pork producers: when we give a dollar to USMEF, their cooperator status with USDA provides matching investment through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Market Access Program.

The alignment and coordination between industry organizations and the USDA ensures the work is strategically prioritized and investments optimized to create value for America’s pork producers.

Building the U.S. Pork Brand

The U.S. Pork brand is known for quality, consistency and safety – brand characteristics that stem from U.S. pork producers’ diligence and commitment on the farm.

We’re cognizant of the desire for global consumers to know more about the sustainability aspects of products, especially in agriculture. Along with our partner, USMEF, NPB showcases daily practices on-farm through multiple ways, including certifying good production practices through the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus Program and demonstrating and measuring commitment to on-farm sustainability. Everything our producers do every day showcases our commitment and ability to provide a safe, quality and consistent product to international customers in all major markets and differentiates our products from competitors.

This also speaks to the importance of having producers out in the market. I cannot stress enough the value of immersion trips and engaging producers to international markets and their investment to promote our product, which allows them to advocate for U.S. pork and what they do with our international customers.

Forward-Looking Thoughts

In closing, 2022 exports are a big success. Our role in international is to amplify everything that we’re doing on the domestic front and to get the most value for every part of the pig. The export data demonstrates our ability to deliver on our focus in 2022. We’re excited to build on that momentum in 2023.

This article is funded by America’s Pork Producers and the National Pork Board.