Producers discuss market for U.S. pork in Colombia

Photo by U.S. Meat Export Federation

Producers representing the National Pork Board saw the importance of U.S. pork exports firsthand recently in Cartagena, Colombia.

Alayne Johnson, a NPB director from northeastern Indiana, attended the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Latin American Product Showcase, an event that connects exporters of red meat with buyers from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

“Especially with the current domestic demand challenges, we are really excited to see how exports are playing into the ability for us to sell our product,” she says. “There’s nothing like seeing it in person and seeing this partnership that we have invested in with USMEF to be able to create those abilities for us to get our market established here in the Colombia area.”

Dave Reinecker, a pork producer from southcentral Pennsylvania, says the market for U.S. pork in Colombia continues to grow.

“I was especially impressed with the number of cuts in the supermarkets and the variety of U.S. pork that was here representing most all of the carcass that’s available. The other thing was just the sheer enthusiasm and the per capita increase of U.S. pork here in this market,” he says. “It was also gratifying to know that we’re not taking the place of domestic pork here. We’re adding to the total amount of pork that’s being consumed here in Colombia, which has tripled in the last 10 years. Colombia’s population is 1/6th of the population of the US. Fifty million versus 300 million, so it’s not a small market for us to get into.”

Johnson says a lot of work has been done in the region to represent U.S. pork and its producers.

“We’ve made a big investment in this project, and it is money well spent. If only we could bring everyone down here to show them in the flesh what’s happening and how hard USMEF is working to make sure that we have ability to bring our product and grow the excitement about U.S. pork in this area,” she says. “It’s really heartwarming how well it is embraced here, and I would love to continue to grow that excitement at home as well.”

Reinecker says a major takeaway from the trip was how well the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USMEF, National Pork Producers Council, and National Pork Board have been working together to develop the market.

“They’re all doing their own work behind the scenes to increase this project as a whole,” he says. “I witnessed them working together for a common cause to bring U.S. pork to this market.”

Johnson says she agrees.

“It’s important that we all work together for a common cause,” she says. “Also, not duplicating the things we’re doing but making sure we’re using our resources to the best of our ability to make sure that nobody is doing the same thing. Instead we’re working together to put that pie together and do what’s best for producers.”

In 2021, Colombia was the sixth largest export market for U.S. pork.

Audio: Dave Reinecker and Alayne Johnson

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