Report: 2020 will be record year for pork exports and likely for Iowa producers


Iowa remains the nation’s top pork producer and 2020 will go down as a record year for pork exports, according to new report from the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Pork exports during September bounced ten-percent from a year ago, while the volume rose six-percent. Federation president and CEO Dan Halstrom says exports exceeded $563-million, thanks to growth in multiple markets.

“Japan, one of our larger value markets, had tremendous growth at about 11-percent,” Halstrom says. “We also had Canada with a record month and then you look at Southeast Asia, you’ve got the Philippines and Vietnam which had tremendous growth. China was up as well, but in terms of the total gain for global exports in the month of September, it was broad-based.”

African Swine Fever, or ASF, caused a shake-up this year, and Halstrom says we may see a slight drop in demand for American pork in China in 2021.

“We’re going to have a record year in 2020 with China,” Halstrom says. “A lot of that’s from the China situation on ASF, but we’re still forecasting the second-largest year ever in 2021 with about 10- or 15-percent decrease there. The key is expanding the reach of pork globally and remain diversified.”

Closer to home, Halstrom says the United States’ neighbors to the south are also vital to continued growth in pork exports.

“Keep in mind that Mexico and Central and South America, Latin America in general went into the COVID-19 lockdowns after the U.S.,” he says. “It was really late May when that all happened. So, they were late to go in and they’re probably a little late coming out, but they will come out and we’re starting to see those signs already.”

Almost one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa on some 5,400 farms. Last year, more than 147,000 jobs were associated with the Iowa pork industry.

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