USMEF led directors of the National Pork Board (NPB) on a thorough review of the Mexican pork market this week, presenting a detailed overview of how U.S. pork moves through that country’s distribution system and offering a look at new and innovative uses for U.S. pork products.
The NPB delegation was in Mexico to learn more about U.S. pork’s largest volume market, which is a critical destination for hams and a range of other pork cuts and variety meats.
“What we’ve really seen and learned on this mission is that Mexico is a very important trading partner, not only for the U.S. industry but also for the American farmer,” said Jan Archer, president of NPB. “For pork producers, Mexico is a market we cannot afford to lose, so we are building bridges – not walls.”
NPB directors were first given a briefing on USMEF’s activities in Mexico, as Oscar Ferrara, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America, and the Dominican Republic, talked about Latin America’s current market conditions and its potential for future growth. USMEF Vice President for Industry Relations John Hinners summarized several U.S. pork programs and activities around the world, using the Gochipo campaign in Japan as an example of USMEF connecting with consumers and the food industry. USMEF Technical Manager Alejandra Valdez and Marketing Director Gerardo Rodriguez detailed successful promotions and activities that USMEF is undertaking in Mexico and Central America.
Rodriguez also talked about the development of new U.S. pork products that currently are sold at restaurants and supermarkets in Mexico – such as U.S. pork wings made from the shank, which the NPB group had the opportunity to taste. A stop at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico City for a “U.S. Pork Processing: Innovation in Product Development” workshop supported Rodriguez’s positive outlook for the potential of expanding U.S. pork sales.
USMEF Meat Consultant Lizeth Rodriguez led the workshop, which included U.S. pork importers, processors and distributors from greater Mexico City. The NPB group was able to meet representatives of companies that import, process or distribute U.S. pork products in central Mexico.
“The workshop really opened some eyes and they were able to show us more than 20 innovative new uses for pork products,” said Hinners. “An example is a pasteurized pork product that is packaged in a pouch and has a shelf life of two years. There were several other very encouraging ideas presented by ‘think tank’ teams that are working on new ways to utilize pork.”
The NPB team was also shown how U.S. pork is sold to consumers in Mexico.
“We went to a Costco outlet and observed U.S. pork on the store’s shelves – and we also toured both ends of the retail spectrum, from traditional wet markets to high-end supermarkets,” said Hinners. “On the final day, we met with importers and distributors in Mexico to gain better insight into the pork import system.”
NPB board members were also given an overview of the Mexican pork market by Mary Rose Parrish, agriculture attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.