Posted May 4, 2012
Additional purchases by China and South Korea helped increase Iowa pork exports in 2011.
The Iowa Department of Economic Development released last year’s state pork export figures in February and the total was nearly $300 million more than 2010. Iowa pork exports were more than $1.4 billion in 2011.
China increased its purchases of Iowa pork by nearly 200 percent over 2010 to $128 million. China’s imports increased after some trade issues with the U.S. were resolved. Other issues impacting China’s domestic pork supply coupled with stronger demand for pork created the need for additional product, said IDED Agriculture Marketing Manager Mark Fischer.
Animal health issues that impacted its domestic pork supply forced South Korea to look elsewhere. At more than $152 million, South Korea purchases of Iowa pork were up nearly 140 percent. “We’re extremely optimistic that the growth in South Korea will continue and benefit Iowa producers in the future,” Fischer said. “We think the new free trade agreement will be extremely beneficial to Iowa and U.S. producers.”
Japan remains the leading market for Iowa pork, accounting for nearly 40 percent of total Iowa pork exports in 2011. Exports to Japan totaled more than $550 million last year. “Iowa enjoys a wonderful reputation in Japan as producers of quality products and being willing to adjust the product specifications to meet the customer’s needs,” said Fischer.
Iowa pork was exported to 39 countries last year and growth is taking place in several regions of the world.
The 2011 figures show Mexico continues to be a strong customer. Russia is providing some additional growth and Australia’s purchases of Iowa pork were up nearly 60 percent. Canada was the second leading destination for Iowa pork last year and remains a key export market. Central America is stepping up its purchases as well.
“We’re seeing more opportunities for growth in markets that were overlooked in the past. The numbers are still fairly small, but they’re increasing and that’s a positive sign,” Fischer said.
In 2011, at least 22 percent of all U.S. pork exports came from Iowa and that’s a conservative percentage, said Fischer. That’s because a considerable amount of Iowa pork is purchased by U.S. companies in other states and then exported.
Can that strength continue in 2012? Iowa pork exports totaled $139 million in January, a $41 million increase over January 2011.