… In most markets, the primary competition for U.S. pork comes from the European Union. Hora says within the EU, pork production in Spain and Germany is growing…
U.S. pork faces growing competition from Europe
By Jeff DeYoung, Iowa Farmer Today
Mar 16, 2017
FORT DODGE, Iowa — Gregg Hora says while U.S. pork remains the favorite of most foreign customers, there is always another country out there trying to cut into its market share.
Hora, who farms near here in Webster County, serves as president-elect of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. He traveled to South Korea in February as part of an Iowa trade delegation.
“They are our fifth largest customer, and they continue to purchase pork at an aggressive pace,” Hora says. “There are many other emerging economies that have a demand for protein and are looking for a safe, quality product like U.S. pork.”
But as trade uncertainties swirl in the wake of the U.S. leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Hora and the rest of the pork industry understand competitors are lurking.
In most markets, the primary competition for U.S. pork comes from the European Union. Hora says within the EU, pork production in Spain and Germany is growing.
“Spain is in the process of tripling its sow herd,” he says.
Hora says the U.S. currently has a hold on six of the top 10 economies in the world — China, Mexico, Hong Kong, Canada, South Korea and Australia. The EU is a major player in most of those markets as well, specifically in the Asian countries.
Maintaining strength in China, Hora says, is critical.
“250 million people will be coming into China’s middle class the next six years, with 100 million of those in the next three years,” he says. “That’s a big opportunity for us.”
Canada, Brazil and Chile are also major competitors, says Nick Giordano, vice president for global government affairs with the National Pork Producers Council.
“Their targets vary, but the EU is at the top because of its sheer size,” he says. “Some have trade restrictions due to animal health issues, like Brazil.”
Giordano says over the past 10 years, the U.S. has been the lowest-cost producer in the world, but with a strong dollar, trade has been impacted and competition for those markets has stiffened.
New trade agreements could change the landscape, he says. Pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has allowed competitors like the EU to potentially cut into U.S. exports.
“The EU has been negotiating deals, closing a deal with Vietnam and in the final stages of a deal with Japan,” Giordano says. He says the U.S. continues to supply a large amount of chilled pork heading to Japan.
“If competing nations get more favorable access to these markets, it’s going to affect our producers,” he says.
Renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could also impact the industry...