These products, along with a number of other U.S pork products, were restricted from import in China in 2009 due to concerns related to H1-N1 “swine flu” occurrences. H1-N1 is not transmissible to either humans or animals via animal products. While most U.S pork products regained market access in China shortly after the restrictions were instituted, U.S pig and sow skins remained in limbo.

According to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in Beijing and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S pig and sow skin product exports may resume immediately under the existing animal by-products protocols.

“Reopening the Chinese market to pig and sow skins is a tremendous opportunity for U.S firms,” said Stephen Sothmann, President of USHSLA. “I want to thank the China Leather Industry Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their efforts to secure access to this important market,” he added.

The U.S. exported 5.3 million pieces of pig and sow skins in 2013 at a value of just over $57 million dollars. China is the largest leather producing country in the world and represents a major opportunity to increase the value of U.S exports of these products. In 2008, U.S exports to China of pig and sow skins peaked at nearly $23 million in value prior to the institution of import restrictions.