US red meat exports to Latin America have been bolstered by the implementation of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, as well as multiple bilateral deals with Chile, Peru, Columbia and Panama.
However, American red meat exporters need to work on differentiating their produce from the rest of what is on offer in the region, USMEF claimed.
“FTAs (free trade agreements) have definitely reduced tariffs and eliminated many trade barriers, making US products accessible to a much broader range of Latin American consumers,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice-president of marketing.
Shipments of both beef and pork increased for the US in May, rising by 12% year-on-year with an estimated value of $533.3m. Much of this growth has been driven by the key meat markets for America, like China, South Korea, Mexico and Japan, but FTAs in Latin America are stimulating growth.
Speaking at the sixth session of the USMEF’s Latin American Product Showcase in Panama City, where 120 meat buyers from 14 countries showcased a host of meat products, Halstrom said “strong marketing” was needed to support FTAs in the region.
“Penetrating these [Latin American] markets still requires relationship building and education, as buyers in these emerging regions are hungry for information about our products and about our industry.”
Halstrom added that the Latin American Produce Showcase “shines” by helping US meat businesses strike up deals with buyers in the region.
Sami Rizk, president of Mirasco, said the show helped him trail beef liver sandwiches for the South American market, after enjoying success for the venture in the Middle East.
“In much the same way that you see hot dog carts in US cities, liver sandwiches have become a very popular street food in Egypt,” Rizk said. He believed that the similar demands for tastes in South America meant there was great potential for beef liver sandwiches.
South America is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions and US exports have increased by 182% in the last two decades, according to the US Department of Agriculture.