Major Players

The US is a major player in the world pork market (Table 1). In 2024, the US is expected to be the largest exporter of pork, followed closely by the EU. Prior to 2024, the EU had been the largest pork exporter in the world. There is a sizeable gap between the top two exporters and 3rd ranked Brazil.

The US is also forecast to be the 3rd largest producer and consumer of pork, behind only China and the EU.

Graph of 2024 World Pork Trade Market ForecastsTable 1. Major Players in the World Pork Market

Relative Value of US Pork Imports and Exports

To get a more detailed look at world pork trade the rest of this article will reference BACI data not USDA data. Therefore, the following tables will not be directly comparable to Table 1. BACI is an international trade dataset assembled by CEPII using the United Nation’s Comtrade data that is corrected for inconsistencies. Data will include pork meat, offal, preserved meat, and processed meat.

Figure 1 shows US pork imports and exports in terms of value, quantity, and average price. The US exports a lot more pork than it imports, and the difference has increased over time. As US pork production has increased, export markets have been a key source of new demand. Another interesting note is that US pork exports are lower-priced than imports, on average. This implies the US is exporting a greater share of lower quality cuts than it is importing.

A graph of different types of pork tradeDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

Figure 1. US Pork Trade

Major Trade Partners for US Pork

Over the past 5 years, Japan, Mexico, and China have been the top buyers of US pork. Together they make up about 60% of US exports. Japan is the largest partner in terms of value, but Mexico is the largest partner in terms of quantity.  

Canada and the EU have been the largest suppliers of foreign pork to the US (Table 2). Together they make up over 80% of US imports. Canada is the largest supplier, making up over half of all US imports in terms of value and quantity.

Graph of Major US Pork Trade PartnersTable 2. Major US Pork Trade Partners

Markets of Other Major Importers and Exporter

As noted earlier, the US is not the only major player in the pork market. The final part of this article outlines the trade relationships of the top four importers and exporters of pork other than the US.

Table 3 outlines trade relationships of the top four largest exporters of pork other than the US.

The EU was the largest exporter on the world market prior to 2024. Note from 2018-2022, the EU averaged exporting $10.6 billion worth of pork per year compared to $5.7 billion by the US. USDA data also shows EU exports have come down significantly over the last 5 years. China is the EU’s largest trading partner followed by the UK and Japan. 

Canada is a major supplier to the US and Japan. China is also a notable trade partner for Canada as well. 

Brazil’s largest export partner is China. China and Hong Kong, together, take almost 60% of their exports. Other major trade partners are other South American countries.  

Chile also ships 45% of its pork exports to China. Other Asian counties of Japan, South Korea, and Russia are also major trading partners with China.

Graph of Trade Partners of other major exportersTable 3. Trade Partners of Other Major Exporters

Table 4 outlines the trade relationships of the four largest pork importers in the world other than the US.

China, specifically the People’s Republic of China, is the world’s largest importer of pork. Its largest supplier is the EU, who provided almost 60% of its pork imports from 2018-2022. The US and Brazil are its 2nd and 3rd largest suppliers.  

Japan’s largest suppliers are the EU, the US, and Canada. Together these three countries provide over 80% of imports.

Mexico’s largest partner is the US, who provides over 80% of its pork imports. It also gets pork from Canada and the EU.

The United Kingdom sources almost all its pork imports from the EU. It imported a little from the US, but with the EU so close and trade partnerships formed before Brexit, the EU supplies almost everything in terms of pork imports.

Graph of Other Major Pork ImportersTable 4. Trade Partners of Other Major Importers