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.


Joe Schuele: U.S. pork exports to Central America set another new record in 2019 at around $230 million. Lucia Ruano, U.S. Meat Export Federation representative in the region, says consumer education has helped U.S. pork become increasingly popular as a center of the plate protein. She offers more details in the USMEF report.

Lucia Ruano: In the Central American market, the majority of the pork imports we have there is raw material used for processing products. But we have been doing a lot of education because people still think that it’s bad for your health, that it’s too fatty, too greasy. And they have been learning with all the education we have been doing that it can be another option as a center of the plate meat, and we have been promoting the loin, the tenderloin, rib eye, strip loin, porterhouse, all of these different cuts so people are changing their thinking, they’re changing mind, they are eating U.S. pork it’s a protein that is available, it has a good price so that’s another advantage that it has.

Joe Schuele: USMEF educational efforts also include cooking and cutting demonstrations which help consumers properly prepare U.S. pork and avoid overcooking it.

Lucia Ruano: We are teaching our customers, the staff of our distributors how to cook pork and we have several cutting and cooking seminars we bring a primal cut we cut it, we cook it, they taste it, and they also learn all of the characteristics and all the attributes that U.S. pork has we are also teaching people about the nutritional facts of pork in the different activities that we are doing not only the education seminars but also the promotions we are doing in all the retail stores in the region.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.

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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.