DENVER – One of the hottest emerging markets for U.S. pork and beef exports is the Philippines, where the 10th annual World Food Expo 2010 was recently held at the Manila World Trade Center. The event attracted more than 50,000 visitors from the region, including about 35,000 food industry representatives.

With support from the Pork Checkoff and Beef Checkoff Programs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) Market Access Program (M.A.P.), this was the U.S. Meat Export Federation's (U.S.M.E.F.) second time at the World Food Expo – one of 820 exhibitors participating.

The Philippines’ election of new president Benigno Aquino III, who was sworn in June 30, has helped generate further optimism and momentum for the country’s growing economy, according to Joel Haggard, U.S.M.E.F. senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region. Haggard said the growth and maturation of the Philippines’ foodservice and retail sectors create a wide variety of opportunities for U.S. pork and beef.

Through June, U.S. pork exports to the Philippines increased 78% in volume over last year (to 71.9 million lbs.) and nearly doubled in value to $62 million. Beef exports increased 66% in volume and nearly 50% in value, totaling 10.7 million lbs. valued at $12.9 million.

“We’re very bullish on the Philippines,” Haggard said. “They have a new president. He has pledged to the people to take a new track. I think there’s optimism in the country; there’s economic growth. On the meat side for the type of meats we sell, the profile of buyers, meat processors all the way up to high-end steakhouses is there. There’s interest in our products, they’re aware of our products. We’re spending a little more time there trying to promote and raise awareness about both U.S. beef and pork.”

Haggard said the Philippines retail and foodservice sectors are reaching the level of maturity on which the U.S. industry can capitalize.

“[Regarding] their foodservice establishments, the economic growth brings greater sophistication to their foodservice sectors so there are new foodservice outlets looking for new products and new ways to position them,” Haggard said. “Many of those outlets are looking for higher-quality products.”