USMEF addresses global exports

Oct 1, 2010
by WLJ

The challenge of meeting a growing global appetite for red meat in an environment that is increasingly aware of and sensitive to sustainability issues was addressed by Joel Haggard, senior vice president, Asia-Pacific, for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), last week at the World Meat Congress 2010 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Asia, in particular, has a growing appetite for red meat and this region is an area of future growth for the U.S. pork and beef sectors— as well as our competitors,” said Haggard.

“Production resources in the United States, such as grain acreage, are in limited supply,” he noted. “With sustainability awareness and accounting increasing, production costs might increase.

However, the track record of the U.S. beef and pork industries in terms of increasing production efficiencies has been positive, and U.S. livestock producers have faith in the ability of technology to continue to yield gains in production efficiencies.”

Haggard cited the success of the U.S. corn industry over a 20-year span from 1987 through 2007 when it reduced the amount of land needed to produce one bushel of corn by 37 percent, cut water use by 27 percent, reduced soil loss by 69 percent, and slashed emissions and energy use by 30 and 37 percent, respectively.

In key markets, such as China, a shift in meat selfsufficiency can have a huge impact on global meat markets, and Haggard believes sustainability considerations could be a factor in those decisions.

“A drop in China’s pork self-sufficiency to 90 percent would equate to roughly 5 million metric tons (11 billion pounds) in imports— close to the total of all global pork trade volumes currently,” Haggard said. “China faces agricultural sustainability challenges from a number of standpoints. If China were to factor in the cost of sustainability and assess whether for the economy as a whole it may be beneficial to import more meat rather than use scarce domestic resources to produce it, the implications are significant. If every livestockproducing country included its sustainability costs fully into its livestock production equation, global meat prices might look different from those of today.” — WLJ