Audio: Consumer Education Helps Fuel Record Pork Exports to Central America

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U.S. pork exports to Central America set another new record in 2019. With December results still to be added, exports to the region already totaled nearly $212 million through November (20% ahead of the 2018 pace) and will finish the year at about $230 million. Of the top 20 international destinations for U.S. pork, six are in Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua). Panama and Costa Rica were the growth pacesetters in 2019, but exports also increased significantly to mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala.

Lucia Ruano, USMEF representative in Central America and the Dominican Republic, notes that while most U.S. pork entering Central America is used for further processing, it is increasingly popular as a flavorful and affordable center-of-the-plate option. U.S. pork has overcome significant challenges to achieve these gains, as many consumers in the region had to be educated about the nutritional attributes of pork and convinced that it can be part of a healthy diet. She adds that USMEF’s cutting and cooking demonstrations have helped teach Central American consumers how to properly prepare U.S. pork and to avoid overcooking it.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.