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Audio: Central-South America Maturing as Destination for Value-added Pork, Beef Products

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Click to play audio file One of this year’s best-performing regions for U.S. pork and beef exports has been Central and South America. Through February, pork exports were up 23 percent in value ($34.8 million) and beef exports had nearly doubled in value ($21.8 million) over the record pace of 2011.

TRANSCRIPT: Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing and communications, explains that one of the reasons behind this growth is that the region has rapidly matured from being strictly a “commodity” destination into a market that imports higher-quality, valued-added U.S. pork and beef cuts. Halstrom says this is a strong indication that USMEF’s efforts to educate importers, retailers and restaurateurs about the quality and diversity of U.S. red meat have paid dividends in this region.

USMEF held its first major product showcase in the Central and South American region last summer, staging a very successful event in Panama City. Halstrom says a similar showcase is planned for July 2012 in Bogota, Colombia, where he expects a strong turnout of buyers from 10 to 12 different countries in the region.

JOE SCHUELE: This is Joe Schuele with the U.S. Meat Export Federation report. After setting records last year, Central and South America is once again one of the fastest-growing regions for U.S. beef and pork exports in 2012. Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing and communications, explains that one of the reasons behind this growth is that the region has matured into a market for higher-quality, value-added cuts.

DAN HALSTROM: We’re seeing quite a bit of traction on both pork and beef down in that region of the world. On the pork side, we have some commodity cuts going down there – things like boneless picnics for further processing, bone-in hams, things like this. The exciting thing is, we’re also seeing diversification into value-added cuts – things like boneless hams, boneless loins, St. Louis-style spare ribs. Things that can be called added value that are really taking hold down in this region. On the beef side, it’s a similar situation where we’re seeing quite a bit of demand for chuck rolls and some of the underutilized cuts out of the chuck roll. So really, what we thought no too long ago as a commodity region is turning into a value-added one very quickly.

JOE SCHUELE: Halstrom says this is a strong indication that efforts to educate importers, retailers and restaurateurs about the quality and diversity of U.S. beef and pork have paid dividends in the region. And following a very successful product showcase in Panama City last summer, a similar event is planned this year in Bogota, Colombia.

DAN HALSTROM: In a lot of ways, they’re a very new market that wants to learn more about different ways to use our products, the diversity and versatility of our cuts, different merchandising methods on both beef and pork that could suit a need. We are going to hold our second Latin American showcase. It will be July 11-12 in Bogota, Colombia. Last year we had buyers from 10 different countries in the region, we hope to equal that or exceed it. We’ll have buyers for sure from Panama, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala and Honduras to name a few. But suffice it to say that the target of 9 or 10 countries we had a year ago – we should meet or exceed that.

JOE SCHUELE: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit www.usmef.org.
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