USMEF: Meat exports poised for more growth in Latin America

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – Oscar Ferrara recently joined the US Meat Export Federation as the new regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, and he’s got a few ideas regarding how the United States can boost meat exports to those regions.

Oscar Ferrara, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF)
Oscar Ferrara

“There are a lot of areas in which we can expand our offerings in the region, and what I hope to do in this capacity is to expand customers’ knowledge of the products we are exporting to these countries,” Ferrara said in a statement. “Many people know that the US offers safe, high-quality meat products, but we can further educate them on the options and choices available, as well as the unique attributes of US meat and the different methods of preparation and cooking. This will reinforce the great value these products deliver and build even greater customer loyalty.”

Ferrara’s experience working for the US Dept. of Agriculture positions him to expand markets for US meat products in Latin America. Most recently, the native of Paraguay worked for the Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs unit of the Foreign Agricultural Affairs Service (FAS). This agency is tasked with market development, international trade and other overseas programs operated by USDA.

“In my position with FAS, one of the main priorities was to open markets and expand market access for US pork, beef and lamb in the Western Hemisphere,” he noted. “So I feel this experience will serve me well at USMEF, as we look to further expand demand for these products.”

Several factors work in the US’ favor: duty-free access provided by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the lower duties negotiated under the US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Ferrara said these trade agreements have elevated exports to the Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic region. Now, he intends to build on USMEF’s success as there is still room for trade to these regions to grow. Educating and building relationships with importers, processors and distributors will be key.

“Trade servicing is absolutely critical, even in a region in which USMEF has a longtime presence,” Ferrara noted. “Buyers want reliability and consistency from their suppliers, and USMEF serves as an important resource for them, helping ensure they can access the products that meet their needs. This is true whether we are working in established markets like Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, or in emerging destinations such as Nicaragua and El Salvador — there are many exciting opportunities for the US meat industry.”

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