The “land down under” continues to be one of the fastest growing markets for U.S. pork exports and it is most likely due to Australia’s changing population demographics, says Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation senior vice president for the Asia Pacific.
“We tend to think of Australia as a meat exporting powerhouse and few realize the country's a large and growing pork importer. Last year the country imported from all suppliers, half a billion U.S. dollars’ worth of pork and 200 million of that was from the United States,” Haggard says. “For the first four months of 2019, the pace of U.S. shipments was up 37%.”
While Australia has its image of a beef nation, Haggard says something interesting happened over two years ago.
“Government statistics were showing the average Australian consumed just under 28 kilograms of pork, slightly edging out per capita beef consumption, which has been in long-term decline. That 28 kilos of pork consumption is more than double the amount the average Australian consumed in 1975,” Haggard says. “This reflects a diet diversification, which in turn reflects changing population demographics.”
Haggard points to 2016 census data which showed among new arrivals into Australia, persons born in Asia, outnumbered those from Europe for the first time ever.
He also notes that this tremendous growth comes despite significant import restrictions.
“Australia has a viable domestic swine industry, and most, if not all the fresh pork sold in supermarkets in Australia is from domestic sources, but it's estimated that at least 70% of the ham and bacon consumed in Australia is processed using imported product,” Haggard says. “Australian import requirements demand that U.S. pork be cooked before it is sold into the Australian marketplace. Until that issue is resolved, U.S. will be unable to get fresh pork on supermarket shelves, but this demand by processors continues to grow.”