International Trade

Country of Origin Labelling (COOL)

It came with much relief to Manitoba pork producers on Friday, December 18, 2015, when U.S. President Barack Obama signed an omnibus bill repealing the U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) law. With the early December WTO announcement granting Canada and Mexico the right to impose $1-billion in punitive tariffs, the U.S. has finally taken positive action, and their next step will be amendment of the regulation.

Since 2008, Manitoba Pork has worked tirelessly to have the American legislation changed, through our trade advocacy efforts in the U.S. and with the support of individual Manitoba producers who provided data and other information to build the case against COOL at World Trade Organization (WTO) hearings. We thank our partners in this battle: the federal government, the Canadian Pork Council, and other livestock groups. We also appreciate the support of the many American farm and business organizations that have worked hard to get the COOL legislation repealed.

Canadian Pork Exports 

Canada has a long history of pork exports. The industry is served by a mature and committed export infrastructure, which includes trading houses, transportation and many other service components. Pork is a major Canadian agri-food export. Export markets account for over 21 per cent of the Canadian hog production, which totaled 26.77 million hogs in 2012. Our products are currently exported to over 173 countries. Only the European Union and the United States are exporting more pork products and by-products than Canada.

Manitoba is the largest pig-exporting province in Canada with close to 62 per cent of national pig exports in 2012. 

Due mainly to the impact of mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), introduced in the United States on September 30, 2008, Canadian pig exports to the U.S. declined from 9.36 million head in 2008 to 5.74 million head in 2010 and 5.79 million head in 2011, 42 percentage points below the record 10.004 million head in 2007. Manitoba producers shipped almost 3.57 million breeding animals, finished hogs and weanling/feeder pigs south in 2012, 3.6 percentage points more than in 2010.

A stronger Canadian dollar relative to the American dollar and falling pig prices in 2006 and 2007 meant that although more Manitoba pigs were shipped to the United States in those years, their value fell to about $373 million and $404 million respectively, compared to $417 million in 2005. Lower pig prices and reduced pig exports in 2008 and 2009 resulted in a further drop in export value to $277 million and $190 million respectively. Conversely, higher prices raised the value to $229 million in 2010 and $216 million in 2011. Manitoba producers shipped almost 3.57 million breeding animals, finished hogs and weanling/feeder pigs south in 2011, 2.4 percentage points more than in 2010.

Weanling pig exports went up significantly over the years from 138,500 head in 1990 to 4.48 million head in 2007, but declined to 4.38 million head in 2008, 3.48 million head in 2009 and 3.04 million head in 2010. The improved demand for hogs led to increased exports of 3.16 million head in 2011. It was no surprise that fewer Manitoba pigs were exported during 2009 – 2010. Some American feeding operations had been discouraged from feeding Canadian weanling pigs because many major U.S. slaughter plants refused to kill Canadian-born hogs due to COOL. There were only eight American plants which accepted Canadian-born hogs in 2011.

Almost 65 per cent of the weanling/feeder pig exports in 2012 weighed less than 7 kg, close to 7.5 per cent weighed 7-23 kg and more than 26.6 per cent were in the 23-50 kg range. Total weanlings shipped to feeding operations in the U.S. rose by 1.6 percentage points in 2012, while slaughter hog exports declined by 6.6 percentage points to 0.38 million head (includes a small number of cull sows and hogs from Saskatchewan). In addition, about 0.2 million weanlings were shipped to Saskatchewan for finishing. Hogs, 50 kg or more (mostly for slaughter including cull sows and boars), were exported to 20 states with 90 per cent going to plants in Wisconsin (cull sows) and Iowa. Shipments of pigs under 50 kg (weanlings/ feeder pigs) went to feeding operations in 14 states with over 97 per cent going to Iowa (71 per cent), Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska in 2012. Manitoba producers shipped almost 3.59 million breeding animals, finished hogs and weanling/feeder pigs south in 2012, .6 percentage points more than in 2011.


Up until 2003, Manitoba was the second largest pork-exporting province after Quebec (not including pork shipped to plants in other provinces and subsequently exported). However, from 2003 to 2006, Manitoba dropped to fourth-largest pork exporter after Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. From 2007 to 2011, as the third-largest pork exporter after Quebec and Ontario, Manitoba was directly responsible for 16.6 per cent, 14.1 per cent, 15.3 per cent, 17.4 per cent and 20.0 per cent of Canada’s pork exports respectively, down from 23.2 per cent in 2002.

In 2012, record Manitoba pork and pork product exports of 259 million kg shipped to 35 countries, were up by 14.2 percentage points from the 2011 level. The record value of pork exports of $717.4 million in 2012 was 21.78 percentage points above the 2011 value. The previous record quantity was 226.8 million kg of Manitoba pork, valued at $646.8 million, sold directly to 26 countries in 2011, compared to 166.9 million kg, valued at a record $518.6 million, exported to the 36 countries in 2001.

In recent years, Manitoba processors have been decreasing pork exports to the United States and increasing exports to other countries, but the situation changed in 2011. Exports to the U.S. were down by 79 percentage points (by value) in 2009 and by 30 percentage points in 2010, when less than 2 per cent of total Manitoba pork exports went to the United States. However, in 2012, exports to the U.S. rose to almost 25.02 per cent of the total value.

Japan is Manitoba’s largest and most lucrative pork market by far. More than 41 per cent of Manitoba pork exports (by value) and 26.1 per cent (by weight) went to Japan in 2011 with almost 6.15 per cent going to South Korea and over 16 per cent to China (excl. Hong Kong). The average price of pork exported to Japan is much higher than for any other country.

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