While bone-in hams make up a large portion of record-breaking U.S. pork exports to Mexico, USMEF works with the pork industry to create and develop new export opportunities for other U.S. pork cuts and variety meat items.
USMEF often collaborates with target accounts on new product development and was approached by Carnes Ramos in 2021, an importer/distributor with widespread retail operations, including upscale retail outlets. The company was searching for cost-effective raw material options for one of its popular chicharrón products and USMEF went to work identifying and testing various U.S. pork cuts and variety meats.
“Following meetings with Carnes Ramos and after conducting industry and technical research related to product specs and raw material options, we recommended using the U.S. pork jowl because of its texture and attractive price point,” says Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic. “We then went to work with Carnes Ramos on developing its chicharrón product with the pork jowl and in early 2022 they began manufacturing the product.”
Product rollout and related promotions were implemented as a pilot program in northern Mexico in early 2022 before expanding to Mexico City based on the product’s success. Through the year, USMEF conducted promotions at retail outlets of Carnes Ramos and at consumer events with a U.S. pork truck. Promotions were supported by social media campaigns.
Rodriguez says that by year’s end, 140 metric tons of U.S. pork jowls were imported each month for this product alone, and it is now available nationwide through numerous online platforms. Carnes Ramos recently reported that the chicharrón product is now available as a pizza topping through a new partnership with Domino’s Pizza.
Funding support related to product development and promotion was provided by the National Pork Board, Iowa Soybean Association, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and USDA’s Market Access Program.