Investing in Trade

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The National Pork Board has made a significant increase in its budget for international marketing. Pork Checkoff Vice President of International Marketing Craig Morris outlines that budget and the strategy for global trade.


Don Wick


Craig Morris, Vice President of International Marketing, National Pork Board




Don Wick:  00:04  From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod.  Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects.  I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff. And today our guest is Craig Morris, who is the Vice President of International Marketing for the National Pork Board.  The National Pork Board making a significant investment in international marketing. Craig, bring us up to date.

Craig Morris:  00:29  You’re absolutely right. I think the National Pork Board this year has recognized that 2018 will be successful, really defined by one word and that will be international marketing.  This year they’ve increased our budget for international marketing by a full 9 percent. We’re going to have about eight point seven million dollars that we’re going to use to help build demand for U.S. pork in international markets and that 9 percent increase going into 2018 is on the heels of a 13 percent increase that went into 2017. So the Board is clearly understanding the important role that exports play in the profitability of U.S. pork producers.

Don Wick:  01:06  Certainly the US Meat Export Federation is a partner in that whole endeavor.

Craig Morris:  01:11  Absolutely right. U.S.M.E.F.  is without question one of our most valued partners in trying to move the needle in terms of building demand for products internationally.  Of that eight point seven million that we’re going to put into international marketing, fully six point four five of that is going to be invested in our partnership with the US Meat Export Federation.

Don Wick:  01:34  We know the National Pork Board is really putting an effort into providing intelligence to the marketplace and part of this budget, really is, is gathering that information, that critical intelligence in country. Tell us about that effort Craig.

Craig Morris:  01:51  You’re absolutely right!  I mean, pork is the most consumed protein around the world, and one of the things that impedes our ability to put U.S. pork in front of those consumers are oftentimes unfair trade practices and various other market barriers. One of the things the Board is investing in heavily is the American Pork Export Trading Company, putting fully one point six million into us,  doing research to better understand what those unfair trade practices are, what those barriers to entry are.  And then using that information industry wide, not just by the Board, to try to address those things through science and very systematically.

Don Wick:  02:30  The National Pork Board has changed the name of the Trade Committee and made some adjustments there. Why the focus, why the change of the name and what’s behind that Craig?

Craig Morris:  02:42  I’m really excited about this. So yes, we’ve done a relaunch of historically our Trade Committee, renaming it the International Marketing Committee. Clearly we believe that fits more with its role in the industry. The important role that it plays at the industry.  We’ve placed a considerable amount of industry leadership on that particular committee, not just from Pork Board members themselves, but we have a NPPC past president position and the various pork industry stakeholders, as well as Pork Checkoff representatives that we have on the US Meat Export Federation executive committee as well. This committee, by taking it from 27 members down to now 11 voting members, will be sufficient size that we can get into foreign markets each year. The Board has made an investment of close to 300 thousand dollars for us to give this committee the resources it needs to do its fiduciary responsibility, to not only attracting the best projects for the Board, but recommending to the Board what, in terms of our international marketing budget, really would bring the greatest return in investments to producers. So we’re going to be doing international missions each year to various markets, markets that we’re either in,  markets that we want in, or potentially even looking at our competitors abroad and better understanding what are the issues that U.S. pork faces internationally. So I’m really excited to be the staff liaison to that committee and working with them as we get up and running.  Our first face to face meeting will actually be in conjunction with the World Meat Congress coming up at the end of May in Dallas Texas.

Don Wick:  04:17  Tell me about that event.

Craig Morris:  04:23  World Meat Congress is an event that happens every other year.  It is a forum really where the meat industry leaders from around the world come together. Some 800 to 1000 of the industry leaders come together and discuss issues related to keeping trade working in the international marketplace for meat. And that’s something that the Pork Board is very supportive of. The focus of this year’s World Meat Congress is just that, trade.  And that’s something that as we know for pork producers in 2018 is going to be really important. So the Pork Board looked at this event coming to the United States for really only the second time, the first time in over 20 years, and said we’re going to make a major investment in this and make sure that the delegates that come, the industry leaders that come from around the world, see the U.S. pork industry.  Learn about what we do to not only market our products domestically but how we produce our products and the various other things that we’re doing here as an industry to put very wholesome safe and high quality U.S. pork on the plates around the world. So we’ve got investments that are going to come close to about 248 thousand dollars to not only bring down our Board, bring down an International Marketing Committee, but sponsor a couple of sessions there. Sponsor a luncheon that will be a pork themed luncheon showing how U.S. pork is marketed around the world. And we’re also going to have a specialty dinner one evening where we’re going to invite some of the major importers of U.S. pork to a dinner to talk to them a little bit more about a lot of the things that we’re doing.  Everything from the We Care program, that incorporates our animal welfare and food safety initiatives, to a variety of other things that we’re doing here as an industry that we’re really proud of.

Don Wick:  05:56  It’s interesting!  A key, of course, is the investment made in international marketing, but as you step back, the strategy really looks like a laser type focus on trying to drive demand in the foreign markets.

Craig Morris:  06:10  You’re absolutely right. International Marketing is an area that we found in our last return on investment study that has a very high return on investment for producer dollars that they pay into the Checkoff.   Some 14 dollars and 70 cents was returned on every dollar invested in international marketing.  So one of the things that we’re trying to do, one of the things that I’m personally very focused on, is making sure that we really do identify those best activities that we can invest in the international space to really move that needle in building demand for U.S. pork internationally.

Don Wick:  06:41  Thank you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit