U.S. pork exports posted the best month ever in July, reaching 233,242 metric tons (mt), up 32% from a year ago and topping the previous record from April 2018. Export value increased 34% to $623.3 million, breaking the previous high reached in November 2017.
One of the biggest factors in this performance was a strong rebound in exports to Mexico, which have recovered nicely since regaining duty-free status. A 20% retaliatory duty, which was imposed on most U.S. pork products for nearly a full year in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, was removed in late May. In July, exports to Mexico topped 67,000 mt, up 19% from a year ago, while value surged 38% to nearly $127 million.
Gerardo Rodriguez, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) marketing director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that USMEF ramped up its customer outreach in Mexico during the time the retaliatory duty was in place, working to defend U.S. market share and identify opportunities for new products. For example, he notes that USMEF worked closely with one of Mexico’s largest pork processors, Capistrano, to develop an economically priced ham that has performed very well since its introduction into the market. He also discusses development of new processed pork items sold in Mexico’s rapidly growing convenience store sector.
Joe Schuele: U.S. pork exports to Mexico have rebounded nicely since regaining duty-free status in late May. U.S. Meat Export Federation Regional Marketing Director Gerardo Rodriguez has more details in this USMEF report:
Gerardo Rodriguez: When we were facing the tariff situation, we had to place more defenses. There were some other countries exporting to Mexico, and there was a door that was open for new competitors that we didn’t have in the market previously, so we had to play very defensive, trying to keep our key customers and our importers committed to the product, and we worked in the first semester of the year with a lot of education, a lot of research and development. Nowadays when we are able to play more offensive, we are marketing new products, and we are gaining a lot of volume. We need immediate results. We need to get our market share back. We need to recover as much as possible and as fast as possible the market share that we were struggling in the last 12 months that we were having the tariff situation.
Joe Schuele: Rodriguez provided examples of some new products finding success in the Mexican market:
Gerardo Rodriguez: We worked with importers and professors developing new products, and I’m going to give you an example. Capistrano is processor No. 4 in the country. We worked with them on the development of a very-price accessible, price-affordable pork ham. So Capistrano is basically working with the middle-high end of consumers now they are developing the middle-low, because we understood that here is where the volume is. This product has been such a success for them that they are buying a lot of U.S. pork in order to supply the demand that they have for this product. They are about to launch new pork products that are going to be sold at the convenience stores, kind of a pork jerky. We are also developing value-added, fully-cooked products, products that were not existing at the beginning of the year.
Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation (www.USMEF.org) is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.