Iowa’s pork industry set a record for exports in 2010 and the figures for December have yet to be added to the total.
The Iowa Department of Economic Development reports Iowa companies exported more than one-billion dollars worth of pork products between January and November of last year.
Greg Lear of Spencer is the director of exports for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. He says expanding overseas markets is key to putting more money in pork producers’ pockets. “Everybody needs access to getting more products sold out of the U.S. because I don’t think we’re going to change our per capita consumption of pork in the U.S.,” Lear told Radio Iowa.
“But, I think we can improve our profitability by exporting more and more products.” The previous record for Iowa pork exports was set in 2008, which was about $3-million less than the amount recorded over the first 11 months of 2010. Lear is confident Iowa can export even more pork this year by focusing on opening up more markets in Korea and China.
“If we could get one-percent of the Chinese market, it would be (equal to) five-percent of the U.S. market,” Lear said. Iowa’s top export customer in 2010 was Japan, accounting for nearly 44% of the state’s total pork exports. Mexico and Canada were second and third, with China fourth. The Iowa Pork Producers Association usually organizes two foreign trade missions per year.
“I think a U.S. producer putting a face in a foreign country is worth way more than what it costs us to get there,” Lear said. “I had the opportunity in the last four years to go to both Japan and China. They want a face with a name. They want to see pictures of the operation and they want to see the people raising the product that they end up eating.”
Iowa companies exported pork products to 43 countries in 2010. According to Lear, since 1998, Iowa’s pork exports have increased fivefold and now account for nearly 24% of total U.S. pork production.
See more from the IDED: www.iowalifechanging.com/Documents/documents.aspx?id=3