Pork Checkoff’s Philosophy on International Marketing

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Trade is critically important for the U.S. pork industry


Don Wick


Terry O'Neel, President, National Pork Board




Don Wick:  00:01  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. This is Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff and today our guest is Terry O’Neel president of the National Pork Board. And certainly trade is critically important for the U.S. pork industry. Terry participated in trade missions as of late and brings us up to date on the Pork Checkoff philosophy as it relates to international marketing.

Terry O’Neel:  00:35  Yeah trade’s very important said the Pork Board and it’s so important we were actually having more trade missions. In March this year, we went down to Mexico because we know how important NAFTA is one to reassure those relationships are good with those people. And quite frankly they love our product. We have a very safe product. It’s reason the prices were so geographically close to Mexico for further processing of hams that’s the place to go for us. Then later on we went to Asia here three weeks ago went to Japan and China.

Don Wick:  00:35  It had to be pretty eye opening.

Terry O’Neel:  01:09  Oh, extremely eye opening particularly in Asia. You know the pork industry aside just to grow that’s going on in China all the building that’s going on all the technology they’re starting to implement but yet they’ve got a lot to do to catch up with our pork industry as far as their domestic production. They’re producing 98 percent domestically and 2 percent is being imported. But 2 percent times 1.4 billion people a lot of pork.

Don Wick:  01:38  Speaking of a lot of pork we’ve increased the capacity here in the U.S. it’s unusual to see two packing plants built in a year let alone open on the same day. But that happened here this past year. That has to put more onus on having exports and being able to move our product.

Terry O’Neel:  01:54  It’s incredible pressure we’re going to have to have to move that product out of the country. We are pretty much flat domestically we’re about 50 51 pounds domestically  over the last 20 years which is we’re still you know still a lot of people are eating pork. We still need to work on that. But we feel a lot of it’s going to have to go out to the export market. We’ve got developing countries that are buying more meat more protein. We know that offer is opportunity for us and we want to capitalize on that.

Don Wick:  02:22  There’s no doubt when you when you look at your role you cooperate with USMEF in promoting that product and all of our overseas markets. Can you talk to me about that relationship?

Terry O’Neel:  02:34  We have a great relationship with United States Meat Export Federation, USMEF. We work with them when we’re down in Mexico with their trade mission down there. And most recently here in and Japan and China. I got to meet and live with those guys personally, their boots on the ground. Joe Haggard, Ming, a lot of the other guys there. They’re working directly with the importers and distributors. They are they are wonderful people they’re very sharp very talented. China is a huge opportunity for us but it’s a huge challenge because there’s so much going on in China and Japan as well. It is it is a developed market but there are still things going on in Japan that we can do better.

Don Wick:  03:22  Are other things like new cuts or can we deliver a different product or what kind of things do you see there?

Terry O’Neel:  03:29  Well the main thing we need to remember is it’s a US product but we need to fit their specifications. That’s one of the challenges we have. We noticed our hogs of course are getting larger here we’re slaughtering almost up to 300 pound pigs here. They get concerned about our cut sizes are pigs. They want specifications and particularly in China. They want them so they will fit into the slicers, so they can slice those products. So it comes back in the packers that we need to maybe look at those specs a little harder. Even box color, things like that things that attract the consumer and the buyer and the market. Color box is brightly colored. Also presentation if the pig feet are a nice soldier style and a line or if we have individually wrapped product they really like that because they don’t want to thaw out a full box at times because there’s a lot of frozen products. So there’s a lot of things we can do and improve upon as far as specifications.

Don Wick:  04:28  Terry O’Neel from Nebraska he is the president of the National Pork Board. Thank you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself visit pork.org.