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Audio: Despite COVID-19 Challenges, U.S. Pork Exports to Central America Still on the Rise

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Despite temporary interruptions in U.S. pork production and significant restrictions on the Central American foodservice sector, pork exports to the region still achieved growth in the first half of the year. Exports to mainstay market Honduras jumped 13% year-over-year to more than $34 million, and larger shipments to Nicaragua and El Salvador also helped push regionwide exports 5% higher to $112.3 million.

COVID-19 arrived in Central America in mid-March, largely shutting down the region’s restaurants except for home delivery. All countries in the region recently resumed in-restaurant dining, but with social distancing limits in place and ongoing consumer concerns about the virus, most business is still conducted through takeout and delivery. Lucia Ruano, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) representative in Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that USMEF promotional programs in the region are focused on expanding the range of U.S. pork meals ordered online and on educating consumers who are preparing more U.S. pork cuts at home. She notes that the hand-on culinary training sessions USMEF has traditionally conducted in Central America are now being conducted as webinars, and have been expanded to include targeted end consumers.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation (www.USMEF.org) 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.