WASHINGTON — With global meat prices continuing to rise, as the FAO Food Price Index reports, consumers and the industry are looking to reduce costs, such as by focusing on underutilized pork products.

“Saving money is important for international consumers and cost-reduction has become essential for retail and foodservice sectors,” said Dan Halstrom, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and chief executive officer. “The trade is very receptive to new product ideas, and USMEF has accelerated educational and promotional programs for cost-effective pork cuts and variety meats at the center of the plate.”

Halstrom noted that high end pork products see heavy demand in exports. In 2021, 54% of US picnic production, 35% of the butt/shoulder primal and 46% of ham/leg production was exported. Meanwhile, middle meats, like bacon, pork loins and ribs, are popular items for US consumers.

“High-value US pork cuts and variety meats can have a significant place at the center of the plate in local dishes,” said Halstrom. “USMEF provides further support for these items by working to build demand through consumer communication programs in local markets. Through influencers, social media and promotional events, we are reaching more consumers than ever with new recipes and cooking ideas for underutilized US pork items.”

USMEF began an initiative in Japan to help the trade capitalize on the April 2022 decrease in the duty on Japan’s picnic/cushion meat imports. USMEF promoted US picnics as an alternative cut for yakiniku, Tonkatsu, pulled pork and ginger pork dishes. The association also released a video series that highlighted four underutilized pork cuts and their versatility in Japanese dishes.

Another method USMEF uses to promote cost-effective alternative US pork cuts is mobile grill programs in Mexico and Central America. The educational programs demonstrate how the cuts can be used in Mexican and Latin dishes.