A group of young U.S. pork producers and other industry leaders learned about market conditions in Colombia and throughout South America at a recent Pork Leadership Institute (PLI) session in Bogota. The PLI, a training program conducted jointly by the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board, is designed to develop future leaders for the U.S. pork industry.
“USMEF sees great value in showcasing pork checkoff dollars at work in the international arena,” said John Hinners, USMEF assistant vice president of industry relations. “It is very important to have future leaders see firsthand the opportunities to expand U.S. pork consumption around the world. We see great value in cooperating with the U.S. pork industry in developing future leadership.”
The PLI team met with Camilo Barrios of Pork Colombia, who recapped the 1996 creation of the Colombian Pork Checkoff, noting that the program has helped increase domestic pork consumption. Barrios added that the Colombian industry is encouraging alliances between smaller scale producers for production efficiency and vertical integration. About 20 percent of domestic production is still from backyard operations, but the industry is making progress in modernizing its production and slaughter practices.
Feed makes up 78 percent of total pork production costs in Colombia. Slaughter has expanded at an average rate of 7 percent per year since 2008. Last year’s slaughter was 4.07 million head, with 4.1 million head expected in 2017.
To help team members learn more about U.S. pork’s customers in Colombia, USMEF staff members set up meetings with companies that import and distribute U.S. pork. USMEF South America Representative Jessica Julca teamed with Hinners, and USMEF Technical Services Manager Cheyenne McEndaffer to coordinate activities to showcase Colombian meat buyers and processors for the PLI team.
Among the visits arranged by USMEF:
- Calypso del Caribe is an importer/processor that has done business in Colombia for more than 20 years, but added pork to its business just four years ago. The company’s U.S. pork imports in 2016 totaled 2,667 metric tons (mt), 91 percent of its total imports. In 2017, its pork imports have already increased to 3,400 mt, with 99 percent coming from the United States. The PLI team learned that Calypso will soon implement an application for online meat purchases that promises delivery within 20 minutes.
- Atlantic is currently the largest U.S. beef importer in Colombia but has also become a key importer of U.S. pork. The company’s primary distribution channel is the foodservice sector, but it has also started working with major retail chains. The PLI team visited a Carulla retail store to see Atlantic’s promotions, including Hormel added-value products and a private label program for Sugardale bacon.
- Frigocargo International is an importer and distributor with 24 years in the market. This company’s total pork imports last year were 4,000 mt – half from the U.S. and half from Chile. Its main clients are small processors, distributors, retailer and foodservice operations.
“USMEF staff coordinated an enlightening day in Bogota that included exposure to the transportation stream of both domestic and imported pork products as well as the overall food culture of Columbia,” said Neill Westerbeek, a manager with North Carolina-based Smithfield Foods.