Sharing ideas and insights to help increase sales of U.S. pork in Central America, USMEF organized educational sessions for importers in Guatemala and El Salvador. Funded by the National Pork Board, activities included cutting and cooking demonstrations, customer service training and sales seminars.
Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF director of marketing for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, said educational programs are a catalyst for U.S. pork’s growth across Central America, especially in Guatemala, where U.S. pork exports totaled 11,423 metric tons (mt) through July, up 13% over the same period last year. Export value increased 14% to $32.2 million. January-July exports to the Central American region were up 15% in volume (52,820 mt) and 17% in value ($127.5 million) over the record pace of 2018.
“We are showing importers and distributors how to handle, prepare and serve pork with the goal that they will share that information with their customers: restaurants, foodservice businesses and retailers,” said Rodriguez. “A lot of the success U.S. pork is achieving in Central America is due to the end consumers having a better experience with pork, learning new ways to prepare it and learning to not overcook it, which has been a tradition across the region. Participants in these recent USMEF activities oversee movement of the pork they import, and we want them to become more knowledgeable so they can encourage their customers to try a wider selection of cuts.”
An example of this educational outreach was a U.S. pork cutting and cooking demonstration conducted for 21 employees of Belca Guatemala, an importer based in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. USMEF consultant Saul Bueso presented an overview of the U.S. pork industry, covering breeds, feeding, production processes and available cuts. Bueso also highlighted the quality of U.S. pork and its advantages over competitors’ products. USMEF Chef Pablo Lou prepared and cooked U.S. pork baby back ribs and bone-in loin.
In a separate but related activity, USMEF conducted a three-day “Customer Experience” seminar for 17 importers in Guatemala City. More than 90 people – all of them working in production, marketing or commercial areas for these importing companies – attended.
Among the sales tools shared at the seminar were strategies to create great experiences for customers. On the product side, the seminar focused on the characteristics and attributes of U.S. pork.
USMEF also organized a sales seminar for importers in El Salvador to provide tools to help them reach sales goals. The Panamerican Business School presented the seminar to more than 40 sales professionals in the Salvadoran foodservice industry. The program included a nutritionist detailin the dietary benefits of U.S. pork.