U.S. pork exports to Mexico rebound post H1N1

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER — After a brief decline during the initial outbreak of H1N1 influenza earlier this year, U.S. pork exports to Mexico have rebounded. Pork exports to Mexico have increased steadily since May, and year-to-date they are exceeding last year’s pace by almost 40% in volume and 20% in value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Chad Russell, U.S. Meat Export Federation regional director for Mexico and the Dominican Republic, said consumer education and marketing efforts undertaken by U.S.M.E.F. helped to restore consumer confidence in the pork safety.

"U.S.M.E.F. had a very aggressive media and consumer education campaign during and immediately after the H1Ni outbreak," he said. "Our exports dipped about 20% in May. It quickly recovered in June and every month since that time there has been an uptick in exports of pork compared to the year before. I think [U.S.M.E.F.] can take some credit for the campaign we had in terms of getting out science-based information to restore confidence among consumers. We also invested a lot more money and had a greater focus on promoting pork at the supermarket level.

"This year we have done a lot of promotions with pork," he added. "We also had a pretty aggressive radio campaign, as well, in trying to educate the consumers. We believe that had an impact."

Gerardo Rodriquez, U.S.M.E.F. director of trade development for the region, said innovative marketing strategies are also being used to target regular pork consumers in Mexico. "We have a data base; we collect information by e-mail and then every week we send them information regarding pork — where they can buy the pork, all of the different attributes, new ways of cooking pork, new dishes, all the different marketing activities that are surrounding the pork promotions," he said.

"We know they are the pork consumers so we are developing the data base in order to keep them informed," he added. "This is not just a one-time promotion; it’s a long-term promotion."

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