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

By Craig Morris

he National Pork Board continues to drive accountability toward its goal of elevating international marketing through a variety of tactics. Working with its strategic partner, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the Pork Checkoff is ensuring that the $6.45 million invested in USMEF’s international marketing efforts this year deliver maximum returns on producers’ investment.

That was the focus of the International Marketing Committee at USMEF’s April Unified Export Strategy meeting. The committee is chaired by Bill Luckey, a Columbus, Nebraska, pork producer. The USMEF asked its investors, including the Pork Checkoff, for input on where resources should best be deployed in 2019 and beyond. The committee recommended adjustments to how markets have historically been prioritized.

U.S. pork’s consistent high quality and versatility is making it an increasingly popular choice at this meat case in Mexico and around the globe.

First and foremost, the committee felt that it is important to consider a reduction in China/Hong Kong funding that will maintain the infrastructure and relationships while not directing marketing activities in what is projected to be a very challenging trade environment in the near term.

The committee also directed the USMEF to identify other areas where funding could be reduced and more strategically invested elsewhere. However, all felt that it was important to maintain funding for marketing efforts in Japan at least at current levels on a dollar basis.

The Pork Board also has been working with the USMEF to identify additional Checkoff resources for increased marketing in high-growth areas of South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the ASEAN region. Based on the recommendations, the USMEF is compiling proposals, which will be reviewed and ranked by the International Marketing Committee when finalized. This ultimately will guide 2019 USMEF funding that will be submitted and reviewed by the Pork Board’s directors.

Learning about Global Customers

Another key piece of the puzzle is obtaining up-to-date global consumer insights. The Pork Checkoff and the USMEF are conducting a marketing study to investigate changing consumer attitudes and trends in developed and emerging U.S. pork export markets. The study will provide a deeper, more holistic view of the current and future situation for U.S. pork exports.

The study will go beyond the quantitative numbers of demand, production and market access and will look at other relevant factors that shape consumers’ opinions, and hence the markets, for pork and pork products over the next several decades. In addition to analyzing linear consumer trends, the research will look at trends in the development of new production and marketing technologies, new environmental concerns and new legal, trade and regulatory regimes around the globe.

Ultimately, the study will prove invaluable in settings such as at the recent USMEF meeting where future Checkoff international marketing investments were prioritized. Comprehensive research is vital as the U.S. pork industry moves to stay ahead of the curve and take proactive steps to market products in new and emerging markets for years to come.