U.S.D.A. officials meet with their Mexican counterparts this week to try and persuade them to reconsider a proposed ban on imports of U.S meat shipped in combos. Under the proposal, carcasses, half carcasses and pieces would be allowed for import only when packaged in boxes or pallets. Meat combos, which is the presentation of bulk products in packages of more than 50 kg, would only be allowed for shipments of non-frozen, mechanically deboned meat, says the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The ban would only impact the importation of beef trim. But it would severely impact pork shipments, as most hams, bellies and pork trim are shipped in combos. Banning combos would impact more than 75% of all pork exports to Mexico, say packers. The proposed change is set to take effect Jan. 15. U.S. officials last week were unclear why Mexico suddenly proposed the combo ban. One theory was that the ban relates to Mexico’s ability to inspect product in a combo, and its concerns about possible mixing of the same items but of varied quality in a combo.

Steve Kay is editor and publisher of Petaluma, Calif.-based Cattle Buyers Weekly. For more information, go to: www.cattlebuyersweekly.com.