|Craig Morris, vice president of international marketing for the National Pork Board|
In 2017, exports accounted for a record-breaking 26.6 percent (5.39 billion lbs.) of total US pork and pork variety meat production. This makes the US the second-largest world pork exporter, only behind the EU. Regarding pork production, China is number-one, followed by the EU and then the US.
Variety meats, such as hearts, livers and kidneys, are of special interest as an export, as these parts have very low residual value in the US. Most gets rendered for non-human uses.
“In 2017, the US exported 82 percent of edible pork variety meat production,” Morris said. “It’s worth much more in other countries, even with tariffs.”
The NPB has made its 2018 goal to elevate international marketing. The board has pulled out of all domestic marketing and redirected resources to global growth.
“Pork is the leading protein choice around the world,” Morris said. “More than 91 percent of all pork consumed in the world is consumed outside of the US.
“It was not that long ago — 1994 — when the US was a net importer of pork,” he said. “Now it’s second in pork exports. We are expecting strong growth around the world.”
Morris emphasized the “around the world.”
“We cannot put all our bacon in one basket,” he said.
This is where industry comes into play. The NPB is looking for strategic partners to develop products for the diverse global market.
“With our partners, we need to learn what our international customers want and work to deliver these products,” he said. “We need to conduct research and work with producers and processors to develop products specifically targeted at each unique market. Together we can build US pork as a unique and special product with a story.”
Opportunities include flavored and seasoned meats that are ready for cooking. For some countries, this might be in smaller, single-use packaging, as refrigeration is limited. For other markets, fully cooked pork products might make more sense, as stoves and ovens are limited. The cut and form of pork may vary by market, too. Examples include green hams to Mexico, loins to Japan and variety meats to China.
Source: National Pork Board
Unlike previous marketing studies, this unique effort will go beyond the quantitative numbers of demand, production and market access and will look at other relevant factors that shape consumers’ opinions, and hence the markets, for pork and pork products over the next several decades. In addition to analyzing linear consumer trends, this research will also look at trends in the development of new production and marketing technologies, new environmental concerns, and new legal, trade and regulatory regimes around the globe.
“Strategic partnerships will be critical to international marketing success,” he said.