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Economic Impact of US Pork Trade

by 5m Editor
9 November 2007, at 12:00am

By Glenn Grimes (Professor Emeritus, Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia), Ron Plain (Professor, Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia) and Steve Meyer (President, Paragon Economics, Des Moines, Iowa)

The changes in U.S. pork trade in the past 21 years are quite impressive. U.S. pork exports have grown from 86 million pounds carcass weight equivalent in 1986 to 3 billion pounds in 2006. Another comparison shows that the U.S. has gone from a negative 1.036 billion pounds net export in 1986 to a positive 2,008 billion pounds in 2006 (Table 1).

The value of pork and pork byproduct exports has grown from $1.97 per hog slaughtered in 1986 to $27.34 per head slaughtered in 2006 (Table 2).

These changes in trade have permitted the pork industry to grow at an additional rate of about 0.8% per year on average over the last 21 years. In other words, the U.S. pork industry was about 16 million head larger in 2006 than it would have been had pork imports and exports remained at 1986 levels.

Not only has the increase in the quantity of pork traded allowed the industry to grow without lowering prices, but it has also added to producers’ incomes in the years when net exports grew. Table 3 shows our efforts to calculate the effect of imports and exports on the price of hogs between 1986 to 2006. We believe these estimates are conservative because they show that prices increased only in the year when net exports grew. In other words, we assumed producers reacted to higher prices by increasing the U.S. herd enough to offset any price benefits from net export growth in the following years. Some observers do not believe producers could react this quickly or increase production enough to completely offset benefits in the following years.

Pork producers can take credit for much of this export growth. They have improved the quality of pork which has made it more competitive and funded promotion efforts. Efforts by the U.S. government to liberalize trade, as well as improved per capita incomes in many countries were also important factors in increasing exports. Japan is the largest U.S. pork customer, purchasing nearly 34% of our exports in 2006. Mexico is second and Canada is third in tonnage purchased from the U.S. Table 4 shows our most important pork customers by their percentage share of U.S. pork exports purchased in 2006 based on carcass weight equivalent.

Three major groups in the U.S. have contributed to the promotion of pork exports. They are USDA, the U.S. meat packing industry, and hog producers. No studies have been made, that we are aware of, to determine the amount of credit each of these groups should receive for increasing the growth in pork exports. Pork producers alone have spent nearly $59 million in the last 21 years to promote exports through Pork Checkoff funds.

We believe the total income of all U.S. pork producers has been improved by $7.4 billion over the last 21 years by the increase in exports (Table 3). Less than 11% of this would be required to repay all of the $833 million in Checkoff contributions by producers during this period.

This study was funded by the University of Missouri and National Pork Board.

Table 1: U.S. Pork Imports and Exports (million pounds)
Year Pork Imports Pork Exports Net Pork Exports
1986 1122 86 - 1036
1987 1195 109 - 1086
1988 1137 195 - 942
1989 896 268 - 628
1990 898 243 - 655
1991 775 290 - 485
1992 646 420 - 226
1993 740 446 - 294
1994 744 549 - 195
1995 664 787 123
1996 619 970 351
1997 634 1044 410
1998 705 1230 525
1999 827 1277 451
2000 967 1287 320
2001 951 1559 608
2002 1071 1612 541
2003 1185 1717 532
2004 1099 2181 1082
2005 1024 2660 1636
2006 990 2997 2007


Table 2: Value of U.S. Pork and Byproduct Exports to the Pork Industry per Head of Total U.S. Slaughter: U.S. Pork Imports and Exports (million pounds)
Year Value of Pork Value of Byproducts Total
1986 $1.05 $0.92 $1.97
1987 1.59 1.10 2.69
1988 2.84 1.62 4.46
1989 3.72 1.35 5.07
1990 3.84 1.51 5.35
1991 3.79 1.71 5.50
1992 4.76 1.66 6.42
1993 5.20 1.61 6.81
1994 5.73 1.80 7.53
1995 8.79 1.83 10.62
1996 11.02 1.82 12.84
1997 11.36 2.46 13.82
1998 10.17 2.13 12.30
1999 10.86 1.83 12.69
2000 12.34 2.00 14.34
2001 14.17 2.23 16.40
2002 13.42 2.02 15.44
2003 13.80 2.38 16.18
2004 18.15 3.38 21.53
2005 22.01 3.43 25.44
2006 23.55 3.79 27.34


Table 3: Checkoff Funding of Export Promotion, Net Pork Trade, and Estimated Benefit to Producers from Changes in Exports and Imports
Year Checkoff funding mil $ Net import or export2 % Benefit1 to Producers from Enhanced Pork Trade
Tolal3 mil. $ per cwt. $ per hog $
2006 4.2 9.56 net exp. 1,071.5 3.83 10.23
2005 4.8 7.94 net exp. 1,840.6 6.67 17.77
2004 4.4 5.27 net exp. 1,654.2 6.05 15.99
2003 4.7 2.67 net exp. - 46.3 - 0.17 - 0.46
2002 4.8 2.75 net exp. - 199.9 - 0.76 - 1.99
2001 5.2 3.18 net exp. 810.7 3.18 8.28
2000 5.2 1.69 net exp. - 377.7 - 1.49 - 3.86
1999 4.9 2.33 net exp. - 129.2 - 0.49 - 1.27
1998 5.7 2.76 net exp. 114.7 0.45 1.14
1997 4.8 2.37 net exp. 136.0 0.58 1.48
1996 2.5 2.05 net exp. 363.4 2.45 6.10
1995 1.8 0.69 net exp. 597.4 2.49 6.20
1994 1.3 1.11 net imp. 200.3 0.84 2.09
1993 1.2 1.73 net imp. - 149.9 - 0.65 - 1.61
1992 1.1 1.31 net imp. 545.9 2.35 5.75
1991 1.0 3.04 net imp. 419.5 1.94 4.76
1990 0.7 4.28 net imp. - 67.9 - 0.33 - 0.80
1989 0.5 3.98 net imp. 368.1 1.72 4.15
1988 0.3 6.03 net imp. 277.5 1.31 3.16
1987 0.1 7.59 net imp.
Total 58.9 7,428.9 avg. 1.58 avg. 4.05
1Benefit is the increase in prices attributable to the changes in domestic supply resulting from trade.

2Net import or export as percent of U.S. production.

3Used -0.5 elasticity 1988-1990
Used -0.3 elasticity 1991-1999
Used -0.2 elasticity 2000-2006


Table 4: U.S. Pork Exports by Country in 2006 Percent Share of Tonnage
Country % of U.S. Exports
Japan 33.8
Mexico 20.3
Canada 10.8
South Korea 9.8
China (mainland) and Hong Kong 7.0
Russia 5.5
China (Taiwan) 2.0
Caribbean 2.1
Other 8.7


November 2007