Officials with Iowa’s pork and beef industries are on a trade mission in Mexico this week. The delegation’s itinerary includes tours of supermarkets, butcher shops and processing plants in Mexico City and Guadalajara. Iowa Beef Industry Council spokesperson Nancy Degner says the benefits of trade missions like this one far outweigh the costs.

Research indicates the export market adds $153 per head of cattle ready for market. “So, because we have the export market, that increases the value that animal brings to the producer and back to the farmer,” Degner said. “We know the export market’s really important to the beef business in Iowa.” Mexico is the number two market for U.S. beef in terms of dollar value, but is first in volume or pounds of beef shipped.

“One of the reasons for that is we export some of what we call the ‘undervalued products’ to Mexico – things in America, we don’t particularly like to eat,” Degner said. “Some of the variety meats, heart or tongue, different things that we don’t value here in the United States but they do in Mexico.”

The trade mission comes on the heels of an announcement that Iowa pork exports hit a record high in the first 11 months of 2010. Iowa companies exported just over $1 billion in pork products over that time period, the highest level in Iowa’s history. A delegation of Mexican meat buyers is scheduled to travel to Iowa this spring.