China’s recent moves underscore the need for diverse markets

Craig Morris is Vice President of international Marketing for the Pork Checkoff.

By Craig Morris

As this magazine was going to press, the United States was optimistic that China would lift recently announced tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports, including on U.S. pork.

The National Pork Board works diligently with the National Pork Producers Council to mitigate trade policy challenges such as this. But this latest challenge from China demonstrates that it’s best for the U.S. pork industry to not “put all of the bacon” in one basket, which is the Pork Board’s 2018 international core marketing strategy.

The importance of the  Chinese market certainly should not be minimized. However, there is a reason that the Pork Board allocated international marketing funds for 2018 and beyond in a wide variety of countries beyond China and Hong Kong. Working with its strategic partner, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the Pork Checkoff’s International Marketing Committee identified countries that will provide the best returns (see page 36).

Case in point, the committee has urged a re-examination of South America, Central America and the Caribbean – markets that offer the opportunity to increase both the volume and value of U.S. pork exports.

Specifically, emerging markets in Honduras, Venezuela, the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic show great promise for U.S. pork sales as consumer diets in those markets shift toward one that is more protein-rich. Also, as consumers in these countries increase their disposable income, they will look to upgrade their diet, providing great opportunities for versatile proteins such as U.S. pork.

Even more of a selling feature is the price of domestic pork products. U.S. pork has a great price point, and it’s a safe, versatile product.

The U.S. pork industry may face a challenging trade policy environment for quite some time. This makes it even more critical to focus on investing producer dollars in areas where they deliver consistent and increased returns.

Export sales drive value and price domestically, and to continue that trajectory, the Pork Board must focus on investing in markets where there is upside potential in terms of both increased pork consumption and value.

By focusing on those factors, we can be assured that the U.S. pork industry won’t have to live or die by any one trade policy decision, tariff or market access obstacle. By not putting all of our bacon in one basket and by focusing on new marketing opportunities to increase global consumption, the Pork Board will continue to build U.S. pork exports.