Demand for high-quality U.S. pork and beef continues growing in Colombia. U.S. pork exports to Colombia increased 10% in volume and 9% in value from Jan.-August, reaching $163 million, while U.S. beef exports grew 51% in volume and 64% in value, reaching $32.2 million, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.
USMEF sees potential for continued growth in Colombia and is expanding a retail program which provides “boots on the ground” training to help butcher shops strengthen their operations and increase sales of U.S. red meat.
Begun in mid-2021, the program targets butcher shops owned by importers, a segment that accounts for a significant share of the country’s imported meat sales. Audits, reporting, unscheduled inspections and follow-up evaluations are key components in phase one of a systematic program designed to help butcher shops improve food safety practices, customer service standards, product handling, packaging and store merchandising.
Nine importers, with more than 80 points of sale in large Colombian cities signed up in 2021 with all of their outlets reporting increased sales of U.S. pork and beef by year’s end. Some butcher shops have moved into phase two of the program, which expands training into product differentiation of high-quality U.S. red meat through customer service, sales, marketing and promotional programs.
A critical early component of phase two training includes site visits from USMEF for training about U.S. pork and beef production, grading, product quality and cut usage.
“Store owners really like this program,” says Maria Ruiz, USMEF trade specialist. “They see immediate improvements in the look of their stores and in the sales results for U.S red meat. Many look at us as the ‘eyes and ears’ for their stores.” Eleven additional importers have joined the program in 2022 with many more on a waiting list.
“There is tremendous demand for this program among our importers in the retail sector and we are in the process of developing a similar training program for the foodservice sector,” says Don Mason, USMEF representative.Funding support for the Butcher Shop Program is provided by the National Pork Board, the Beef Checkoff Program, the corn checkoff and soybean checkoff programs and USDA’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Program.