Premium US Pork Promotion Proves a Hit in Taiwan

TAIWAN - With support from the Pork Checkoff, the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has held events in Taiwan to promote US pork.
calendar icon 30 December 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

The people of Taiwan love home-grown pork but high-quality American pork is becoming the media darling in this meat-loving island nation of 23 million.

US pork typically goes into processing in Taiwan but a crowd of gourmet bloggers and reporters from newspapers, television and magazines showed that Taiwanese are hungry for news about premium consumer-ready US pork by covering a US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) event produced with support from the Pork Checkoff.

Celebrity chef Chen of ShenYen Teppenyaki entertained the assembled reporters while serving samples of French-cut bone-in loin, Boston butt and spare ribs combined with local ingredients in six delicious dishes. Interviews with the chef discussing the attributes of US pork and his distinctive recipes were carried in the many media outlets attending including the China Post, Taiwan News, China Times, Commercial Times and SET-TV.

“Using high-quality ingredients is a delightful experience,” said Chef Chen. “You know that they are special and different from other ingredients.”

The goal of the promotion was to help US pork gain a larger share of the food service sector by capitalising on demand for branded, premium pork dishes at high-end restaurants and hotels.

“The finest hotels and restaurants want to distinguish themselves from their competition by serving distinctive dishes such as dry-aged pork steaks and branded pork,” said Davis Wu, USMEF-Taiwan director. “Raising the awareness of high-quality US pork with this audience is a good step toward building consumer demand.”

The event with Chef Chen was one part of a broader campaign that includes retail promotions and a distinctive rolling US pork billboard – images of healthy young piglets wrapping a bus that commutes hourly through the capital Taipei and neighbouring Ilan County.

pork promotion marketing bus USMEF

While efforts to promote US pork to processors is challenged by Taiwan’s zero tolerance for growth promotant residues, USMEF is encouraged by the positive reception to its market development program for US chilled and processed pork.

“Many consumers are unaware of the quality of US pork and where it can be purchased.” said Wu. “Seeing Chef Chen demonstrate easy-to-cook pork recipes while discussing the positive attributes of US pork for high-end food-service sends a strong message to those chefs searching for unique food ingredients.

“Developing consumer-oriented activities for the Taiwan market enables us to better control the messages and communicate directly to the end consumer,” added Wu. “That helps create a new atmosphere for US pork and elevate it to a higher-quality status.”

While Taiwan is 94 per cent self-sufficient in pork, consumers here enjoy significantly more red meat than their Japanese and South Korean counterparts and slightly more than mainland China, and pork is by far the local favourite.

Despite the growth promoter residue issue, USMEF has made inroads in expanding the market for US pork beyond the processing sector, including at the retail level, with growth supported by a younger generation that shops more in supermarkets and hypermarkets than traditional wet markets. There are growing opportunities for US pork niche items such as natural pork and unique processed and branded items.

Through September, Taiwan has purchased 15,431 metric tons (34 million pounds) of US pork valued at nearly $34 million, increases of 17 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, over last year.

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