Audio: Record Pork Exports to South America Driven by Tremendous Growth in Colombia, Peru

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2018 was a record year for U.S. pork exports to South America, driven in large part by strong increases in pork muscle cut shipments to Colombia and Peru, which increased about 40 percent year-over-year.

Even with December data still to be reported, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to South America already exceeded the previous highs set in 2017, with volume increasing 24 percent to 120,059 metric tons (mt) and value up 17 percent to $292.3 million. For pork muscle cuts only, exports to Colombia were up 39 percent to just over 83,000 mt, while the volume shipped to Peru climbed 40 percent to 5,240 mt.

Jessica Julca, USMEF South America representative, explains that U.S. pork’s popularity with Colombian processors is the main factor behind the United States being Colombia’s leading pork supplier, but U.S. pork is also making strides in Colombia’s retail and foodservice sectors.

In Peru, USMEF has worked with the domestic industry to help overcome negative perceptions about pork, leading to gains in pork consumption. Improvements in cold storage and distribution facilities have also made consumers outside the Lima metropolitan area more accessible, and U.S. pork is capitalizing on these opportunities.


Joe Schuele: 2018 was a record year for U.S. pork exports to South America, fueled mainly by tremendous growth in pork muscle cut shipments to Colombia and Peru, which grew by about 40% year-over-year. In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, USMEF South America Representative Jessica Julca says U.S. pork is very popular with Colombian processors but is also starting to find success in the retail and food service sectors:

Jessica Julca: Colombia is a market that used to be self sufficient but as the pork consumption increased that gave us room for imported pork, and right now the United States is the leading supplier for pork in Colombia. We’re doing a lot of activities increasing our penetration. We work with importers, distributors, retailers and we are starting to see also some results in food service. We have some accounts that U.S. pork cuts are more profitable for them. They see the benefits of using U.S. pork in their menus so it’s a good success.

Joe Schuele Peru is still a relatively small market because pork has not traditionally been a big part of the Peruvian diet, but Julca explains that that’s starting to change.

Jessica Julca: We’re working closely with the pork producers’ association there, and also the retailers are part of this initiative. Advising them with ideas how to change the negative perception of pork as a part of a healthy diet. So the Peruvian industry are doing a great job at promoting pork. We are supplying extra U.S. pork. Now we are the leading supplier in this market. It’s not as big as Colombia or Chile but the expansion is there, a lot of investment in cold storage outside the capital city, so we are there working with importers and the distributors so we are reaching those corporations with U.S. pork.

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.