By Craig Morris

For the first time ever, the National Pork Board tagged international marketing as an organizational goal in 2018. The mandate was straightforward: Elevate international marketing, which is key to the U.S. pork industry’s continued success. After a record-setting 2017, the push was on to keep the trajectory going and to set new records.

A two-pronged strategy supported pork export growth in developed markets and built diversified export opportunities in emerging markets that could be profitable for years to come. The Pork Board strengthened relationships with its strategic partners, the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, ensuring that the industry was working together.

The Pork Board engaged in the broader pork and food community, harnessing the power of media both here and abroad to talk about the importance and the superiority of U.S. pork exports, breaking barriers and building relationships the world over. U.S. pork producers accomplished a lot in 2018 while facing unexpected trade wars and retaliatory tariffs from the largest and most profitable export markets, some of which had been considered unshakable.

Strategic objectives and relationships here and abroad were important, as well as looking at new opportunities to market U.S. pork. The goal is to never put all of our bacon,  literally or figuratively, in one basket.

Trade visits to critical export markets in Asia (page 34), Latin and South America and the Caribbean provided critical insights to better market U.S. pork, identified new opportunities and built new partnerships. Trade teams met with fascinating buyers, influencers and retailers who proudly sell and support U.S. pork because of its superior quality and want to sell more.

Working across departments within the Pork Checkoff, we identified opportunities to share insights and channel the power of influencers. We worked to understand consumers abroad and those in our own backyard looking for ethnic cuisines and new flavors on menus and in recipes to prepare at home.

Reaching Greater Heights

And we’ve listened to key stakeholders and taken their insights to determine where we go next and how we get there. This has been a building year, a year where we’ve built a better plane so we can take off faster and reach even greater heights.

In 2019, the Pork Board is doubling down in the markets where Pork Checkoff investments can make a difference. This means increased investment in developing markets, including ASEAN, South and Central America, the Caribbean and Korea, and continuing to advance in developed markets that have been huge for U.S. pork, including Japan and Mexico.

The Pork Board will continue to move the needle, despite a challenging trade policy environment. In 2019, the ambitious Pork 2040, a foresight marketing study,  will be launched to build off the insights gathered in 2018. This project will help the industry understand challenges and opportunities for U.S. pork products 10, 15 or even 20 years from now.

Thanks for coming along for the journey in 2018. Stay tuned this year as the Pork Board continues to elevate international marketing efforts to achieve the industry’s ambitious export goals.