Retail consumer demand for pork continues driving pork production increases in Mexico. In addition, meatpacking plants’ COVID-19 preventive measures have allowed Mexico’s pork production to continue its upward trend to meet that demand, especially from March to June 2020, says a recent USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) report.

Employment loss and diminished incomes are causing consumers to move from more expensive sources of animal protein, such as beef, to more affordable ones, such as pork and chicken, the report says.

Additionally, buying habits are changing and spurring pork processors to provide a wider range of options. There is more demand from single households who want quicker and easier meals, making pre-portioned cuts more relevant, the report says.

“Versatility, convenience, flavor and a variety of choices have become the trend among the expanding urban middle class, driven by pressure to save time, seek added value, and have greater convenience in heating and serving meals,” the report notes. “However, in more rural areas with generally lower income populations, backyard slaughter for household consumption continues to be prevalent.”

Mexico continues to be a key livestock trading partner to the U.S. Mexico’s beef and pork exporters are meeting growing demand for red meat. Pork exporters have discovered new market opportunities in China and are continuing to comply with rigorous market requirements of Japan and South Korea, the report says.

However, Mexico’s beef and pork imports have not been as strong as in years past, due to Mexico’s economic slowdown and an unfavorable currency exchange rate.

In 2020, Post forecasts Mexico’s pork imports at 950,000 metric tons compared to 960,000 metric tons forecasted for 2021.

In 2021, Mexico should see a small rebound on pork imports as the HRI sector begins to open up and HRI demand for pork increases, the report says. Mexico’s pork imports increased 9.9% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with a 14.7% increase of U.S. pork imports.

Mexican pork processors depend heavily on pork imports to satisfy raw material needs, the report explains, driving imports in 2019 to approximately 2.3 million metric tons total.

Pork Production | Jennifer Shike | August