Pace of Colorado ag exports remains well ahead of 2010

Exports of agricultural products from Colorado remain well ahead of last year  thanks in large part to increased sales of meats and hides.

“Increased exports are critical for Colorado’s agricultural industry, and it is encouraging to see our exports increase in all sectors,” said John Stulp, state agriculture commissioner. “We are particularly pleased to see a growing acceptance and desire for our meat products in Asia and Russia, which are Colorado’s most significant growth markets.”

The value of agricultural exports from the state totaled $778 million through the first nine months of 2010. That’s an increase of $169 million, or almost 28 percent, from the same span last year. By comparison, U.S. agricultural exports grew 15 percent during the first nine months of 2010.

For all of 2009, Colorado companies exported a total of $1.47 billion worth of agricultural products to 99 countries. That total is forecast to increase to $1.65 billion for all of 2010.

Increased sales of meats and hides, the top two agricultural exports from Colorado, accounted for $151 million of the increase for 2010. Exports of meats rose 21 percent to reach $495 million. Exports of hides and skins rose 86 percent, nearly doubling the total value to more than $141 million.

Growing markets in Russia and Asia accounted for the most significant growth. Exports of edible beef products to Russia   increased 1,122 percent, while exports of hides to Hong Kong increased 937 percent.

Eight other categories of agricultural exports from Colorado also increased during the first nine months of 2010. Exports of dairy products, eggs and honey rose nearly 15 percent to $22.6 million. The value of animal feed exports increased 22.5 percent to $13.6 million.

Canada remained the top overall export market for Colorado agricultural products through the first nine months of 2010. The total value of products exported to that country rose 6.3 percent to nearly $227 million.

Mexico remained the second largest overall export market with a 6 percent gain in the value of products shipped there to just over $175 million. Japan ranked third among the top five export markets for Colorado agricultural products, followed by Korea and China. Exports of Colorado agricultural products to Korea rose nearly 150 percent, while exports to China rose nearly 40 percent.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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