Meat & Livestock News

EU Pork Production Decline and Impact on US Exports

TL;DR: The EU’s pork production has dropped nearly 3 million metric tonnes since 2021 due to environmental regulations, opening opportunities for US exports. This decline has boosted US pork exports, especially in Korea and other key markets. With strong demand in Asia and Latin America, US pork exports are expected to continue growing as EU production remains low.

Decline in EU Pork Production

Pork exports have shone this year. Several countries, including Korea, Colombia, Central America, and Australia, are showing strong exports. The European Union’s significant drop in pork production has also boosted US exports. This decline is partly due to environmental regulations.

Sharp Decline

According to the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the EU’s pork production has dropped nearly 3 million metric tonnes (MMT) since its peak in 2021. Steve Meyer, chief livestock economist at Ever.Ag, explained during the US Farm Report at the World Pork Expo this week.

“When you say 3 million tonnes, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s 25% of our production. They’ve reduced their output by the amount of product that we export,” said Meyer.

This significant reduction in EU production has created new opportunities for US pork, especially in Asian markets.

Export Increases

US exports to Korea have increased by nearly 55%.

“It’s a big deal, and it’s not likely to reverse,” Meyer said. He also noted that the EU’s production might continue to decrease in the coming years. “Their production is probably going to go down more in the years to come. It’s kind of stabilized this year, but I think they’re going to make sure they’ve made policy decisions that are going to limit their output for years to come.”

Lowest Production Level in 25 Years

The EU’s pork production is now at its lowest level in almost 25 years. Environmental regulations are a major reason for this drop. Additionally, the EU faces ingredient supply chain problems and higher input costs. However, analysts believe that environmental regulations have had the biggest impact.

Brett Stuart, President and co-founder of Global AgriTrends, said, “The EU is a major competitor, but there have been some regulatory changes that have really caused them to step back from the global markets, which has provided a real in for US pork in a lot of these key markets.”

Complex Market Dynamics

Erin Borror, vice president of access and analysis for USMEF, describes the export market as a tale of two stories.

“We had European products undercutting us when China pulled back after they rebuilt through ASF. Now we’ve seen a return to US competitiveness,” Borror said. US exports are increasing in volume and price. This demand component is critical to understand.

Higher Pork Prices in Europe

Europe’s pork prices have risen after being too low in 2021 and 2022. Borror noted, “There’s that factor in Asia, so especially Korea, Southeast Asia, where we’re seeing growth. Also in Australia, taking back market share from Europe.”

Growth in the Western Hemisphere

US pork is also driving consumption growth in the Western Hemisphere and Latin America. Trade agreements are playing a significant role. “When you look at consumption growth in areas of Asia, that’s because of Europe’s production being down,” Borror added.

Future Opportunities

Brett Stuart sees real opportunities ahead.

“I think there’s some real opportunities ahead, and it’s market by market. These markets are all unique,” Stuart said. He forecasts a 9% increase in pork exports this year, noting that growth is not limited to just Mexico, Korea, or Colombia. Other non-top 10 markets, over 80 countries in total, are also seeing significant growth.


The decline in EU pork production has opened up new opportunities for US pork exports. With strong demand in Asia, the Western Hemisphere, and Latin America, US pork exports are expected to continue growing. Environmental regulations in the EU are likely to keep their production low, benefiting US producers in the global market.