CHICAGO Aug 15 Tyson Foods Inc plans to
find other export markets for its pork products after a recent
delivery to China triggered an export ban of half its U.S. hog
slaughterhouses, the company told Reuters Friday.
The Agriculture Department announced earlier this week that
China was barring future pork imports from six U.S processing
plants and six cold storage facilities over the use of a feed
additive called ractopamine. China requires third-party
verification that U.S. pork imports are ractopamine-free.
"We're confident about the safety and quality of our pork
and will work with the USDA to try to resolve China's concerns,"
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in an email statement. "In
the meantime, we'll find other markets for our products."
The company did not immediately respond to requests Friday
for further details on which markets Tyson may be pursuing, how
big of a market China is for Tyson's pork exports, or whether
there are pork deliveries currently in transit needing to be
How much China's recent bans will impact the United States'
third-largest market for pork exports is unclear, say traders.
In 2013, U.S. pork exports to China, excluding Hong Kong,
totaled 312,138 tonnes, valued at $645.3 million, according to
the Global Trade Atlas. Overall pork exports worldwide last year
totaled 7.5 million tonnes valued at $20.4 billion.
But the ban comes at a critical time for meat exporters
after Russia slapped a one-year ban on meat, including pork,
from the West in retaliation for sanctions imposed for its
support of rebels in eastern Ukraine. The appetite for U.S.
pork, they said, remains strong in Japan and Mexico.
Tyson's pork packing plants currently ineligible to export
to China include its facilities in Perry and Storm Lake, Iowa,
and Logansport, Indiana.
China has also banned pork from a Hormel Foods Corp
plant in Fremont, Nebraska; Triumph Foods in St. Joseph,
Missouri; and Quality Pork Processors Inc in Austin, Minnesota.
Hormel, Quality Pork Processors and Triumph did not respond
to requests for comment.
How long the Chinese ban of these plants will remain in
place is not known.
But in this situation, analysts say, political pressures
within China could be at play: The country's domestic pork
production was up 3.4 percent in the first quarter of this year,
over the same time a year earlier, according to China's National
Bureau of Statistics.
So the export tussle involving Tyson and the others may be
partially fueled by China's bid to slow down overseas hog
supplies in order to protect domestic prices and production,
said John Ginzel, an analyst with Chicago-based brokerage firm
"China apparently has a lot of pork" now, Ginzel said.
"They're swimming in it."
(Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)