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Pork Product Exports Expected to Decline

by 5m Editor
10 June 2010, at 4:00am

CANADA - The amount of pork products exported from Canada is expected to decline come calendar year 2011, according to an official with the Canadian Pork Council.

"We've had about four or five shocks to our industry in the last five years (such as) the high Canadian dollar, for a while high feed prices due to biofuels competition for grain, we had H1N1, we had the worldwide recession... people lost a lot of money," said Martin Rice, the council's executive director.

The Canadian pork industry has seen about one quarter of its domestic production disappear since 2005. However, he estimated 2010's year-end pork product exports will be slightly higher than 2009's at 1.1 million tonnes, up from 1,092,968.

However, he also predicts that in 2011, that number will be around one million tonnes.

"We'll be hard pressed, because our production is going down significantly... the combination of five years of miserable losses in the hog sector," said Mr Rice.

The US is Canada's biggest export destination for pork products in terms of volume, Rice said. However, Japan is actually Canada's largest export destination in terms of value.

In 2009 Canada exported 336,000 tonnes to the U.S., worth about C$852 million, while exporting 228,000 tonnes to Japan, worth about C$872 million, according to Mr Rice.

Japan purchases cuts such as loins and tenderloins that are deboned and trimmed, giving them a higher value per kilo, according to AlbertaFarmer.

Canadian pork products are also exported to other markets such as Korea; their top valued cuts are bellies, used to produce bacon. Mexico is an important market for hams; Australia buys the middle, the back and belly together; China and Taiwan are a large market for organ meat such as hearts and livers, Mr Rice said.

Mike de la Montche, project officer with Canada Pork International, said many factors can affect shipment numbers, moving volumes up or down, such as disease in other countries, currency exchange rates, quality and price.

"Countries buy your product based on the price, determined by your production cost, also the exchange rate and the quality of your product and how safe it is," Mr de la Montche said.

A market such as Japan, he said, "is very discerning in the quality of the products that they buy, so even though one is a little more expensive than another, if the quality and safety is higher than they might go with the other one."

Despite all the different markets, Mr Rice still expects overall hog production in Canada will decrease, causing a ripple effect into less supply for export.