To sell a product, go where people gather. In Central America, as in much of the Western world, where people gather is frequently Walmart. In four Central American nations, shoppers recently gathered at Walmart for U.S. pork promotions conducted by the retail giant and USMEF with funding from the Pork Checkoff and the Illinois Soybean Association.
“Walmart has a strong presence in this region, and the 19 stores in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua were very great to work with,” said Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF director for trade development for Central America and the Dominican Republic. “The visibility and the opportunities to interact directly with consumers were outstanding.”
The promotions were tailored to the specific tastes of the countries. For example, spare ribs, Saint Louis-style ribs, pork chops and pork loin were featured in Costa Rica versus pork ribs, barbecue pork ribs, pork for grilling and pork loin in Nicaragua. Pork riblets topped the menu in El Salvador and pork chops in Guatemala.
Chefs on location in each store discussed the quality and attributes of U.S. pork, and samples were provided by the U.S. Pork Grilling Club, with attention drawn to the in-store events through Internet/Facebook promotion as well as ads in various local media channels.
Across the four countries, U.S. pork sales rose 19 percent in volume and nearly 24 percent in value, with Nicaragua posting the highest returns: 27 percent in volume and 40 percent in value.
“This is the first time we have attempted a regional pork promotion simultaneously in four countries,” said Rodriguez. “We are continuing our efforts to develop new channels with companies that are aligned with our strategy to increase per capita pork consumption in the region. We are very pleased to be able to partner with Walmart Central America, which provided a lot of resources to support the promotion.”
The Central/South America region saw U.S. pork imports grow by 34 percent in volume (108,796 metric tons) and 35 percent in value ($275.5 million) through the first 11 months of 2013.
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