By Craig Morris

Diversifying export market opportunities is the most critical aspect of the National Pork Board’s international marketing strategy. It is easy to say we are looking for new export market opportunities, but what does this look like in practice?

How do we expand market share and increase exports to emerging global markets? How do we put the board’s strategy into action and deliver meaningful results?

This year, the Pork Checkoff’s International Marketing Committee emphasized Latin America, the Caribbean and South America. The committee asked for increased resources to market U.S. pork in these burgeoning regions, and rightfully so: South America, Central America and the Caribbean are three of the fastest growing export markets for U.S. pork.

Add to that work by the National Pork Producers Council to open the Argentine market to U.S. pork, and there is a significant opportunity to deliver great returns on producers’ Pork Checkoff investment.

Growing New Markets
Working with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the Pork Board invested $637,000, or 13 percent of its international marketing budget in these regions. That investment is paying huge dividends, as shown below.

But beyond that financial investment – which is significant – what’s more important are the relationships being built with traders, buyers, government officials, industry stakeholders and food influencers in the region.

In June, Minnesota producers Randy Spronk and John Schwartz attended the Latin American Product Showcase in the Dominican Republic. Bringing together buyers from the entire region, the event provided critical insights about how pork is sold at retail and prepared in foodservice, as well consumer preferences.

The Pork Board is providing training and U.S. pork recipes to hotel and restaurant chefs, with a focus on U.S. pork’s safety. As in the U.S. market, the Checkoff is reminding chefs to cook pork to 145oF for a better eating experience for consumers.

From left, the Pork Checkoff’s Craig Morris and Minnesota producers Randy Spronk and John Schwartz check out how pork is being marketed in Latin American stores.

Making Connections
What’s unique about these emerging markets is the rate at which overall pork consumption is increasing. Compared to some of our tried-and-true export partners where pork consumption continues to rise, the rapid increase in the emerging regions is truly exciting.

The Pork Board’s job is to partner with key stakeholders in the region to increase demand, capitalizing on it to position U.S. pork as the protein of choice.

These markets won’t become the largest trading partners overnight for U.S. pork. But by getting in on the ground floor, investing in the regions and establishing key relationships, the U.S. is building a foundation for long-term loyalty that will undoubtedly pay dividends for years to come.

The Pork Board’s international marketing strategy is about playing the long game, and that’s just what we’re doing when it comes to emerging markets.