The US meat industry should continue to pursue growth overseas, according to a report on outlook for the North American food industry this year.

Beef, pork and poultry processors in the US are becoming "increasingly reliant" on overseas markets but the benefits of export growth "far outweigh" the risks, industry watchers Rabobank said.

In its annual outlook for North America's food and agribusiness sector, Rabobank touted China as a key market for US meat processors, especially those working in the pork category.

China's domestic pork suppliers have been unable to meet soaring demand for pork, which presents an opportunity for overseas suppliers. Argentina and Brazil have recently signed agreements allowing them to export to China.

Fiona Boal, part of the team that drew up the Rabobank report, conceded that the export performance of US meat processors would be affected by factors outside their control, including the movement of the US dollar and trade reform.

However, she added: "Despite the fact that many factors are outside of the control of individual industry participants, the US meat industry should not lose sight of the fact that the benefits of exporting and competing on the world stage far outweigh the risks."