U.S. pork products were front-and-center at Australia’s largest and most anticipated food exhibition, Fine Food Australia, which was held recently in Melbourne. The four-day event attracted more than 27,000 attendees, with more than 1,000 exhibitors from 41 countries. USMEF’s participation was made possible through support from the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
U.S. pork has limited access to the Australian market, with exports restricted to cooked pork and processed pork products. But demand for these items is growing in Australia, and the U.S. industry is well-positioned to capitalize. Through August, U.S. exports to Australia totaled 39,004 metric tons (mt) valued at $136.2 million, ranking Australia as the sixth-largest volume market for U.S. pork and seventh-largest in value.
Compared to the same period last year, January-August exports were up 7 percent in volume and 16 percent in value. By contrast, Australia’s imports from its other main suppliers – Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands – have all trended lower in 2014.
U.S. products featured at Fine Food Australia included fully-cooked bacon and ham, pork sausage crumbles, spicy Italian meatballs, sausage links and sausage patties. Pulled pork – both with and without barbeque sauce – was also available for sampling and proved very popular among attendees.
“This was an excellent venue for showcasing U.S. pulled pork,” explained USMEF-ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin, who oversees the Australia and New Zealand markets. “It’s not a dish commonly found in Australia, but it’s becoming very popular and attracted a lot of interest from buyers.”
Yin noted that pre-cooked U.S. bacon is also a favorite among buyers attending Fine Food Australia.
“We find many Australian consumers who are thrilled with the quality of U.S. bacon,” she said. “Australian bacon is really more like American ham, and the Aussies say they love thin, crispy U.S. bacon.”
Yin said attendance at this year’s event was fairly steady with years past, but enthusiasm for U.S. products was the highest she has observed in some time. Several buyers expressed immediate interest in purchasing U.S. pork items for their retail and foodservice clients. Fine Food Australia returns to Sydney next year, with activities scheduled for Sept. 20-23, 2015.
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