DENVER – Many pork producers attending the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, were interested in getting an update on and learning more about international marketing. One such seminar conducted by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) was of particular interest

Danita Rodibaugh, USMEF chair-elect, and senior USMEF staff covered the history and mission of USMEF, plus current global marketing strategies and key issues related to pork trade. Together, with USMEF’s Mexico City-based chef Max Covaliu, they showcased pork entrées that have proven very successful in the key markets of Japan, Mexico and Central America.

Japan is by far the largest value market for US pork, surpassing $1.6 billion last year, Rodibaugh said. One reason for this strong growth has been the recent introduction of back ribs – a product featured in Japan in only the past two years. Japanese-style pork back ribs were among the entrées sampled at the seminar, along with pistachio-crusted pork satays and pork arrachera, popular Latin American dishes made with cuts from the pork leg.

The April USDA export results also came as very positive news for producer attendees. April pork exports reached 181,109 metric tons valued at $487.8 million – up 16 percent in volume and 22 percent in value over April 2010. US pork exports are 18 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (735,294 metric tons) and 24 percent higher in value ($1.87 billion), on a cumulative basis through April. This equates to more than $56 per head slaughtered, compared to about $44 during the same period in 2010, Rodibaugh said.