Last week’s sudden devaluation of China’s currency (the yuan, pronounced yew-un) raised significant concerns for the U.S. meat industry. The U.S. dollar was already at multi-year highs against the currencies of many major trading partners and competitors, and that disadvantage worsened when many of these currencies reacted to China’s move.  

As Hong Kong-based Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, explains, U.S. beef has no access to China and only a small number of U.S. pork plants are currently eligible to serve China. So the U.S. industry’s immediate concern is not necessarily direct meat trade with China, but rather the impact on U.S. pork and beef sales in other key export markets where purchasing power was further diminished – including South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, and even Western Hemisphere markets such as Mexico and Colombia. The U.S. dollar also further increased in value versus the currencies of major meat-exporting competitors such as Australia, Brazil and New Zealand.