Despite pork’s export sales success, there are areas of concern driven by the global economic slide, Daley notes.

“With 35 U.S. pork facilities delisted, exports to Russia could face a rough start in 2009, not to mention the challenging economic situation and the devaluation of the ruble,” she adds.

“The only good news is that Russia increased the U.S.’ tariff rate quota from 111.8 million pounds to 220.5 million pounds for 2009 – allowing an additional 108.7 million pounds to enter at 15% duty instead of the over-quote rate of up to 75%,” Daley comments.

For the year, U.S. pork exports to Russia reached 480.1 million pounds worth $476 million, increases of 118% in volume and 130% in value over 2007.

The China/Hong Kong market emerged as the number two buyer for U.S. pork in 2008, with purchases of 880.9 million pounds valued at $689.4 million, increases of 136% in volume and 155% in value over 2007.

Daley says, however, don’t expect China’s pork imports in 2009 to match last year’s record. Increased industry profitability last spring, plus a number of hog-raising subsidies, are supporting a substantial expansion of China’s herd and lower hog and pork prices.

The National Bureau of Statistics reported by the end of the third quarter of 2008 that China’s live hog inventory increased 6.6% and its sow population rose 12.4%. Total marketed hogs increased 5.8% and meat production was up about 6%.

Complete meat export details can be found in the statistics section of www.USMEF.org.