by Randy Spronk, Chair
The Pork and Allied Industries Committee met May 26 at the USMEF Board of Directors Meeting and Product Showcase in St. Louis, Missouri. Among the topics discussed were preparations for an ongoing expansion of U.S. pork production and the need to export growing pork supplies by gaining more access to existing markets and making inroads into new and emerging destinations.
China, Japan, Mexico, South America and Africa were the primary markets examined during the meeting, which included a U.S. pork demand panel of USMEF directors and representatives. They each provided an overview of market conditions and promotional efforts in their region and took questions from committee members.
Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, explained the China Strategic Marketing Plan, which he said takes into consideration big changes in the way red meat in China is distributed and uncertainties as to where the market is headed.
Haggard explained that USMEF is in the process of implementing the plan, which is based in part on a survey of U.S. and Chinese industry influencers.
Core strategies in China for 2016 include communication and outreach with importers and distributors, regional seminars with processors, promotions with select target retail and foodservice accounts and social media programs to leverage promotion efforts.
“We’re really trying to figure out how to use the resources you provide us in the most effective way in China,” Haggard told the committee. “It’s very important to analyze where China is going, and by this I mean looking at the way China’s structure is changing. Once the meat arrives in China, we are looking at the way it is sold in the system and how we can take advantage of the shifting structure.”
The U.S. pork demand panel followed with a look at approaches in key markets.
In Mexico, the largest volume destination for U.S. pork, Chad Russell said USMEF is addressing negative pork myths in the retail and foodservice sectors by introducing and promoting quick and easy pork recipes, educating foodservice workers on the nutritional value of pork and conducting pork product workshops. USMEF has also launched a website dedicated to pork that provides ideas and methods for cooking and preparing pork dishes. Russell pointed out that per capita consumption of pork has grown steadily over the past half-decade in Mexico and USMEF is working to make sure U.S. pork defends – and grows – its market share.
“Mexico’s domestic farmers can’t produce all the pork that it needs, and with demand increasing the pie is getting larger,” said Russell. “We not only want to keep growing the pie, we are attempting to make sure the U.S. can capture an even larger part of the pie.”
Jessica Julca updated the committee on efforts to reach out to importers across South America. She also focused on the increase in U.S. pork exports to Colombia since the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement entered into force. Julca said that in 2010, Colombia imported fewer than 10,000 metric tons (mt) of U.S. pork. By 2015, that number grew to more than 40,000 mt. Julca added that there remains room for improvement across the region, and USMEF seminars and workshops have been successful in introducing more customers to U.S. pork.
In Japan, USMEF has introduced an enhanced tray pack with a recipe for U.S. pork loin to expand U.S. share of imported pork at retail, explained Takemichi Yamashoji. USMEF also partnered with supermarket chains around Japan to promote U.S. pork – not only for ready-to-eat meals but also for meals prepared at home.
USMEF’s unified export strategy (UES) for Fiscal Year 2017 was highlighted by Dan Halstrom, senior vice president of global marketing. The UES, a comprehensive document that USMEF submits to USDA each year, outlines priorities for use of USDA Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program funds. Halstrom explained that each of the past two years, USMEF held two full-day stakeholder workshops – one for pork and another for beef – in which USMEF members provided input and feedback on the UES and asked questions regarding specific funding priorities.
Halstrom reported some of the points made concerning U.S. pork in the 2017 UES, which was to be submitted to USDA in early June:
- Japan, Mexico and Korea: market share needs to be defended and expanded
- China is a priority, but investment will be increased gradually
- Japan: investment is key, especially with increasing U.S. pork capacity and supplies
- Among emerging markets, USMEF is particularly focused on Central America, South America and Africa
USMEF representative Monty Brown detailed opportunities for U.S. pork in Africa. Brown said increasing demand for U.S. pork in the region requires building relationships with retailers and other key decision-makers in the African food industry. Primary target markets for U.S. pork include South Africa, Angola, Benin and Ghana, while the secondary target markets are Congo, Gabon and Senegal.
“You absolutely have to get in and meet the people,” said Brown. “This is a market with a lot of potential, but it requires a lot of face-to-face time. The retail outlets in many of these countries are modern, just like you’d see here in the United States, but we have to make the investment required to get our product in there.”
Randy Spronk is a pork producer from Edgerton, Minnesota, who represents the pork producing and feeding sector on the USMEF Executive Committee.
Reports from the USMEF Exporter Committee and the USMEF Feedgrain and Oilseed Caucus will be featured in upcoming editions of the Export Newsline.