In this edition of Pork Pod, National Pork Board Vice President of International Marketing Craig Morris outlines a recent trade mission to Southeast Asia. Members of the Pork Checkoff International Marketing Committee visited multiple countries and learned about new opportunities for U.S. pork
Craig Morris, VP of International Marketing, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:16 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, vice president of international marketing for the National Pork Board. And the National Pork Board International Marketing Committee recently participated in a multi country trade mission to Southeast Asia. Craig, tell us about the countries you visited and really the goal of this entire trade trip?
Craig Morris: 00:36 We actually visited four different markets. We flew into Singapore, traveled on from Singapore to Vietnam, then from Vietnam on to Hong Kong, and then on to Macau, and then headed on home from there. This particular trip was selected actually by our still relatively new, in the first year of existence, international marketing committee, as a way that they could see US Pork Checkoff dollars in action and overseas markets. And really get a sort of a wide cross section of developed and developing, very mature and very emerging markets, where US pork is not only has been playing a role, but is playing an increasing role.
Don Wick: 01:23 So did these different countries have different needs as it relates to US pork?
Craig Morris: 01:27 Unbelievably! As we went through, you know, Singapore is as mature of a market as you can get, as is Hong Kong. Those are very competitive markets, very savvy buyers, very affluent clientele in terms of the customer base that we’re working with. You walk into grocery stores there, you’re seeing US pork very prominently displayed in the retail case to a consumer that really isn’t that much unlike a US consumer. By absolute contrast, Vietnam, that is a booming economy. That’s a country that has annualized growth really unlike anything in the world, ex China. It’s just astounding. You can feel it busting at the seams. And really what we’re doing there is really fueling that growth in the processing sector, so we serve in large measure as a raw material supplier into that market for a lot of the processed products that are moving on to the consumers.
Craig Morris: 02:25 And then Macau! Macau is just a market that’s on fire. You know, one of the things that our consulate staff talked to us about is, you know, the gambling dollars that are going through Macau right now, those are somewhere on the order of about $33 billion a year. If you look at the entire state of Nevada, there’s only about $11 billion a year that goes through that. So just an amazing amount of money. We had an opportunity to go in the largest casino in the world, The Venetian, see US pork being featured in some of their high, high end restaurants that they’re doing a great work for with the very obviously affluent clientele that’s coming through there. So absolutely four unbelievably different markets. And US pork is positioned very differently in each one.
Don Wick: 03:15 Craig, keeping that in mind, when you look at the direction we’ve gone, really, a focus on market intelligence. Did we learn some things in each of these markets that we can bring home, and whether it’s done on the farm or at the packer level or processor level, that maybe can adapt some cuts for a specific market or those kinds of things?
Craig Morris: 03:35 No, absolutely. One of the things that we’ve just started up here at the National Pork Board are what we’re calling “postcards from abroad”. And so we’re going to do a better job in the future, than maybe we had in the past, in putting down, on paper, some of those observations about what’s going on in those markets real time to help inform, not only producers in terms of what’s going on with their dollars abroad and what’s going on with demand for our products, but when we see opportunities, telegraphing that information back to the industry, so that they can take advantage of those opportunities that we’re seeing on the ground. Absolutely every market we saw different things. We went into, in Singapore, one of the largest manufacturers of Bak Kwa, which is a pork jerky product that’s very popular there. About 12 percent of their sales were coming from US Berkshire hogs while we were there, they were actually unloading a load of product coming out of Minnesota that was the US commercial pork. Talking a lot about one of the things that they liked best about US pork was its consistency, was its leanness, was its outstanding packaging. You know, some of those observations we want to feed back. By contrast, when we got into Macau, one of the chefs said that we don’t offer them some of the cuts that they can get from some of the other suppliers. A particular example that we got in Macau was a bone-in loin with the skin still on. It was a presentation that that particular chef liked, thought resonated well with his clientele and wanted to see if he could find a US supplier for it. So it’s, it’s a real mixed bag in terms of us trying to send back that information to the industry on what we’re doing really well and why they like our products, but then some of those opportunities maybe for us to continue to grow that market
Don Wick: 05:29 Sounds like a pretty successful trip?
Craig Morris: 05:32 It was absolutely unbelievable. The overarching reason that we’re doing this, is it helps inform the international marketing committee in terms of where we want to deploy US Pork Checkoff dollars in 2019. So we certainly came back with some ideas of where money would be best deployed in the future.
Don Wick: 05:50 Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.