According to Courtney Knupp, Vice President of International Market Development for the National Pork Board, in 2022, the U.S. pork industry had a top-three year for pork export value, which amounted to just over $7.6 billion. This is significant as 27.5% of U.S. pork production went to international customers last year, and the Pork Board is excited to see where 2023 will take them.

While the demand for pork in the United States has been strong over the past two years, but several factors could impact its continued strength in 2023, including rising interest rates and elevated prices for housing and groceries.

The USDA projects growth in U.S. pork production in 2023, but this comes on top of high feed and input costs as well as a severe labor shortage.

However, the National Pork Producers Council emphasizes the importance of the pork industry’s economic contributions to the U.S. economy, supporting sales, jobs, and value-added gross domestic product within agriculture and other industries.

Consumer pork demand has been strong, but lower real incomes due to rising prices for groceries, housing, and energy could lead to weaker demand. However, if pork remains an affordable protein option, and consumer preferences for pork products are sustained, that would be positive for demand.

The cost of raising hogs in the United States has increased, but the United States remains one of the most cost-efficient producers in the world.

The pork industry supports approximately 613,000 jobs, $36 billion in personal incomes, and $57 billion in value added, and its economic contributions extend beyond the farm.

Mexico was the top country for both export value and volume of U.S. pork in 2022, a success story that demonstrates the importance of maximizing carcass utilization to increase the value of each pig.

Variety meats, which are non-traditional muscle cuts, were worth $1.27 billion in sales in 2022, representing a small quantity but high value.

Without international markets, these variety meats may end up in rendering in the U.S. Instead, they provide valuable entry points to markets, especially in lower income countries that are integrating more protein into their diets.

Carcass utilization is a critical figure that impacts the profitability of the business, and the focus on it is driving the value and profitability in the industry. It is also a key sustainability story that needs more attention.

US pork exports to Mexico continued to grow in December, reaching a volume record of 90,175, up 13% from the previous year.

The export value in December also hit a record high of $198.3 million, up 42%, making it the third highest export value on record.

The 2022 total export volume hit a record of 959,701 mt, up 10% from the previous year, with export value reaching $2.03 billion, surpassing the $2 billion mark for the first time. Despite competition in Mexico, US pork demand is still high, even with imported pork, beef, and poultry entering at zero duty since May.

In the Dominican Republic, US pork exports also saw significant growth in 2022, with a record volume of 85,551 mt, up 46%, and a record export value of $233.6 million, up 55%.

However, import duties on red meat and poultry, which were temporarily suspended in June, have expired, giving the US duty-free access, while other major suppliers are subject to the DR’s most-favoured-nation rate of 25%.

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong increased notably in the second half of 2022, reaching 56,230 mt in December, up 66%, and valued at $137.7 million, up 49%.

The demand for variety meat drove this growth. For the full year, pork and pork variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong decreased by 26% to 542,443 mt, valued at $1.39 billion, down 20%.

US pork variety meat exports also saw growth, averaging a record of $10.15 per head slaughtered in 2022, with a total volume of 530,290 mt, up 2% year-over-year, and a record-high export value of $1.27 billion, up 3%.

The exports of pork variety meat set annual records in both volume and value to China/Hong Kong, and shipments also increased to the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and South Africa.

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