Customers of one of the largest warehouse clubs in South America were shown how to properly thaw pork and given tasting samples of U.S. pork ribs as part of a USMEF campaign that ran throughout the second half of 2016. Funding for the promotions at Makro, which has 160 outlets in Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, was provided by the Pork Checkoff.
The U.S. pork ribs promotion took place at eight of Makro’s Peru locations – seven in Lima and one in Huancayo. USMEF informed and educated the stores’ clientele about the quality and availability of U.S. ribs.
USMEF educational materials clarified the differences between U.S. pork rib cuts. The front side featured a photo and diagram of the cuts, pointing out spareribs, St. Louis ribs and brisket bones. The back side had recipes and directions on how to prepare the ribs.
“We were able to bring it all together with that information sheet,” said Jessica Julca, USMEF representative in South America. “We let the customers taste U.S. pork ribs in barbecue sauce and we showed them where the rib cuts come from and how they are different from each other. So that will really stick in their minds the next time they are deciding which items to purchase. Another important part of the promotion was educating them on how to properly thaw pork, which will make a big difference in the preparation of U.S. pork cuts.”
Most pork ribs exported to South America are shipped and sold at retail frozen. Quality is maintained as long as the thawing process before preparation and cooking is done correctly. A key component of USMEF’s educational efforts is to ensure consumers buying U.S. pork know how to properly thaw it.
The positive reception of U.S. pork ribs at the in-store promotions in Peru led Makro to expand its offerings of U.S. pork. The company plans to add U.S. pork chops to meat cases in several South American stores, noted Julca.
“USMEF’s promotion of U.S. pork certainly helped to increase the sales volume for Makro, but there were other factors, too,” she said. “Makro was able to find better prices for U.S. pork in October, attracting more customers. They also advertised U.S. pork in brochures in November and December, drawing even more interest.”
Creating more awareness of U.S. pork in Peru is among USMEF’s priorities in South America, where U.S. exports have fluctuated in recent years. After a slow 2014, Peru was No. 21 on the list of top export destinations for U.S. pork in 2015, with 3,969 metric tons valued at $9.8 million. Exports to the country slowed again in 2016 – through the first 11 months of the year, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to Peru were 2,743 metric tons, down 29 percent (but up 12 percent compared to 2014). Export value over the first 11 months of 2016 was $6.6 million, down 32 percent from 2015 but still up 8 percent from 2014.