U.S. Pork Exports Continue To Increase And Gain Popularity

US - Mouth-watering U.S. pork became a favorite among international consumers in 2005, thanks to strong promotional efforts led by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
calendar icon 17 January 2006
clock icon 6 minute read

“Our focus on U.S. pork has assisted in generating a 13 percent worldwide increase in U.S. pork and pork variety meat export volume in addition to a 19 percent increase in value in the first 11 months of 2005,“ said Brett Stuart, USMEF director, trade analysis. “Those numbers, along with continued USMEF efforts lead to a favorable forecast for 2006.“

With U.S. beef back in Japan, and recent concern about an ongoing investigation by the Japan Ministry of Finance related to tariff manipulation of pork imports, there is concern Japanese pork, especially frozen pork, imports will decrease.

With an expanding future for chilled U.S pork exports, however, an optimistic confidence exists that U.S. pork will maintain a strong presence in the Japanese market. USMEF will continue to educate traders about the advantages of carrying chilled U.S. pork. It is more delicious than Japanese pork since it is aged on the way to Japan, and can be positioned just below high-quality Kurobuta pork. This makes chilled U.S. pork a delicious yet reasonably-priced product that can be enjoyed everyday at home.

“With the new year and the market reopening to U.S. beef, some are feeling pessimistic about the continued success of U.S. pork, but there should be no fear. Consumers have gained a taste and desire for U.S. pork, due to the trust and loyalty we have been able to achieve through our promotions, and I don’t see that going away,“ said USMEF-Japan Senior Marketing Director Takemichi Yamashoji.

Approximately 800 stores belonging to major supermarket chains Daiei, Ito Yokado, Maruetsu, Inageya and Ozeki, participated in USMEF promotions that involved distributing free recipes, samples and educational material about U.S. pork.

“By conducting sampling and cooking demonstrations of frozen and chilled pork, we have been able to emphasize the superior flavor and quality of U.S. pork,“ said Yamashoji. “In-store promotions have provided us with an opportunity to build consumer confidence in the product.“

Persistent USMEF strategic marketing activities, such as seminars, retail promotions and educational events about the safety and high quality of U.S. pork have already resulted in a substantial increase in overall demand of U.S. pork in Japan, Korea, Mexico and Russia.

Looking back on 2005, USMEF brought U.S. pork to the forefront of these markets by taking part in innovative marketing that got the product out among consumers.

In Korea, USMEF held a seminar where more than 200 Korean traders, wholesalers and retailers attended and were informed about the current market situation, opportunities and strategies for importing chilled U.S. pork.

In addition, USMEF will showcase U.S. pork and processed pork at Seoul Food 2006, Korea’s most important food show March 21-24. The show will allow USMEF-Korea to hammer home the message that many U.S. pork products exactly fit the needs of South Korean purchasing personnel, product managers, sales and marketing specialists, meat traders, distributors, hotels, restaurants and retailers.

A strong desire and capability of exporting chilled U.S. pork to Asian markets has also allowed U.S. pork to maintain a strong growth pattern within the industry due to improved packing technology, prolonged shelf life and enhanced transportation methods of transporting chilled pork.

The export demand in Korea showed an increase in U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports in the first 11 months of 2005 with a 178 percent increase in volume at 64,385 metric tons (mt) and a 198 percent increase in value at $139.6 million.

In Mexico, USMEF has maintained the growth in consumption of U.S pork through the implementation of an advertising campaign called 8El Cerdo es Bueno 8 (Pork is Good).

“These advertising campaigns have developed good consumer brand recognition of U.S. pork,“ said Gustavo Castaño, USMEF retail manager in Mexico City. “Consumers have discovered U.S. pork as a new protein source and Mexican families are realizing that U.S. pork can be consumed not only during holidays, but also as a part of their daily diet.“

Other promotions using entertainment rewards for U.S. pork purchases, such as a Mothers Day, have also been major hits in retail stores.

“Every event that we organize and sponsor is a key component in our overall strategy of increasing and building awareness and brand recognition for U.S. pork,“ said Gilberto Lozano, USMEF Mexico director.

Mexico is currently the second largest market for U.S. pork and is an example of a market that has shown that U.S. pork exports can continue to increase despite the re-entry of beef. Mexico reopened its border to U.S. beef in March 2004 after a three-month closure and experienced one of the sharpest increases ever in U.S. pork exports. Reopening markets to U.S. beef does not have to hinder U.S. pork sales – instead it has the potential of continuing its success and in some cases increasing it.

“Mexico has always been a strong market for U.S. pork, and with the recent announcement that the Mexican government has decided to terminate an investigation into alleged dumping of U.S. hams, it will likely have a positive effect on U.S. pork exports to Mexico in 2006,“ said Thad Lively, USMEF senior vice president, policy planning & research.

USMEF has also held a variety of U.S. pork activities in Russia. A month-long festival at restaurants located in three different five-star hotels and six other top restaurants was held to gain excitement and promote the safety and tenderness of U.S. pork. U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to Russia have increased 61 percent in volume at 38,275 mt and a 86 percent increase in value at $69.9 million through the first 11 months of 2005 compared to the first 11 months of 2004.

USMEF and its partners, such as the National Pork Board, look at the new year as an opportunity to expand U.S. pork activities and education internationally by attending and conducting more trade shows, seminars, advertising, market tours and retail promotions.

"The U.S. pork industry is pleased to report that 2005 was the 15th consecutive record breaking year for U.S. pork exports, and I want to assure producers that our focus will be on extending that record in 2006," said Steve Murphy, CEO, National Pork Board. "We believe the strategic partnership between pork checkoff, USMEF and NPPC is an international model for success and look forward to placing more U.S. pork on the world's dinner table," said Murphy.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, lamb, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.

Source: US Meat Export Federation - 17th January 2006

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