"We need to leverage this momentum. Opportunities must be uncovered and strategic plans put in place to specifically market US pork on a worldwide basis," Waetke told GlobalMeatNews.
This optimism comes at a tough time for the US pork sector, given the losses wreaked on the industry by porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) and Russian import bans, but is grounded by growth in US pork exports: "So far in 2014, exports have increased 9% from the first six months one year ago. That is significant. Even with record prices, there is still strong global demand for US pork," Waetke said. And estimates project "an additional 10.6 million metric tonnes in sales in the next five years and that growth is outside of the US where populations are growing."
Now, an NPB-commissioned study conducted by SIAM Professionals will evaluate existing marketing strategies and partners to identify methods to position US pork in the international market. "The study will consist of three specific phases, which the NPB has authorised US$300,000 to complete," Waetke said. The study will assess existing trade barriers and access issues: "We will gain the information we need to identify exactly those barriers and use the data and intelligence to respond appropriately," he said.
US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) communications director Joe Schuele said his organisation "looks forward to working with the NPB to deliver US pork producers the best return possible on their investment in international marketing".
Waetke argued the country’s "pig farmers set the standard in quality food production". He highlighted the NPB-sponsored Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA) quality control, covering more than 90% of America’s pig farmers, claiming this helped enable the US industry to compete on price and quality grounds.
Indeed, in 2013, American pork was sold in more than 100 countries, Waetke said. But the NPB thinks there is greater potential in emerging markets, noting regions such as eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America have increasing populations, growing GDPs, or both. For example, US pork exports to Colombia have increased by 83% of late, he noted.
Schuele said Mexico was America’s "largest market [for pork] by volume, and an exceptionally strong destination for hams, picnics and pork variety meat. Japan is the largest value market for US pork, and is a strong purchaser of loins, picnics [a shoulder cut], and pork butts." In 2013, US pork exports to Mexico were 625,475 tonnes, its largest in volume, while its value stood at US$1.22bn. US pork exports to Japan in 2013 were the highest in value that year at US$1.88bn, from 424,858 tonnes, according to USMEF data. China (including Hong Kong) was the third-largest export market at US$903m, followed by Canada at US$844m.