Mexican Consumers Increase Pork Consumption Thanks to Indiana Corn, Soybean Project
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 28, 2014) — Nick Maple, a pork producer from Amboy, Ind., walked into a meat market in Mexico City, Mexico earlier this year and saw something that made him smile, a box of pork products from an Indiana processor.
“It could have been pork from my farm and that was exciting to see,” said Maple, who represented Indiana Pork on the trip hosted by the Indiana soybean and corn checkoff organizations. “Exports are an important market for our pork products and to see boxes and boxes of U.S. pork being sold in Mexican markets and grocery stores was great.”
Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) and Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC) organized the trip to Mexico City for a group of Hoosier soybean, corn and pork farmers to see firsthand a checkoff-funded project designed to increase pork consumption in Mexico with the ultimate goal of increased U.S. pork imports into the country.
This U.S. industry-funded, multi-year imaging campaign designed to improve Mexican consumers’ perceptions of pork – and raise consumption levels – is generating positive results after its launch three years ago.
“From seeing point-of-sale materials in the grocery store meat cases to experiencing a live mention about how to cook pork on two popular Mexican morning television shows, this campaign is really raising the level of awareness of pork to the consumers making the food-buying decisions in Mexican households,” said Dennis Maple, ICMC president from Greentown, Ind. “Projects like this ultimately benefit Indiana corn and soybean farmers greatly because the more people eating pork means strong demand for our products as livestock feed.”
Helping Mexican homemakers between the ages of 25 and 45 view pork as a preferred mealtime choice is the goal of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) campaign, funded through a broad-based coalition that includes ISA and ICMC – the state soybean and corn checkoff organizations. Other partners include Illinois Soybean Association, United Soybean Board, Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
“The people of Mexico currently consume about 35 pounds of pork per person each year,” said Tom Griffiths, member of ISA’s livestock committee from Kendallville, Ind. who is ISA’s representative at USMEF meetings. “When you compare that to other markets, like the United States (about 46 pounds) and China (84 pounds), we see opportunity.”
While Mexico is about 65 percent self-sufficient in pork production, the United States supplies the lion’s share of imports – about 90 percent – and is well-positioned to gain from a growth in Mexican pork consumption, since the Mexican pork industry does not have the capacity to fully satisfy increased demand.
“The beauty of this campaign is that it benefits all participants,” said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. “Historically, many Mexican consumers have not viewed pork as their first protein choice. We are fostering the image of pork as a delicious center-of-the-plate option for daily meals served in the home.”
The USMEF pork campaign includes national television ads as well as mass transit ads. In addition, in-store point-of-sale materials and recipes have been deployed in approximately 500 supermarkets. While portions of the campaign are national, the supermarket elements are focused on the large metropolitan areas of Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.
The feedback USMEF is receiving from consumers and importers alike indicates that the campaign is working. USMEF commissioned a baseline consumer survey just before the multi-year campaign started in August 2011.
Some key results of the second year anniversary survey indicated an increase to 53.2 percent from 45.3 percent of the target homes consuming pork at least once a week; a near doubling of consumers’ positive perceptions that pork is healthy (58 percent versus 34 percent), and a 9 percent increase (88 percent versus 79 percent) of the target homes preparing pork at home.
“Having these survey results from year-to-year allows us to show real value from our checkoff investments,” said Griffiths. “When you add those with the increased export numbers to Mexico, it’s a very compelling story.”
U.S. pork exports to Mexico posted very strong results in early 2014, despite concerns about tight supplies and rising U.S. meat prices. Through February, pork exports to Mexico were 16 percent ahead of last year’s pace in terms of volume (113,677 metric tons) and 21 percent higher in value ($222.3 million), according to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
“With the tightening supplies of U.S. pork, we were able to address the concerns of some of our Mexican customers during the trip,” said Nick Maple. “I think it helped having a pork producer tell them personally about some of the issues we are having on our farms that are causing this to happen and explain when they might see more pork availability down the road.”
To learn more about USMEF’s efforts, visit www.usmef.org. For more information about ISA’s efforts in supporting livestock, visit www.indianasoybean.com/livestock. For more about ICMC’s efforts, visit www.incorn.org.
Signs in grocery store meat departments promoting pork are one element of the U.S. Meat Export Federation project focused on increasing pork consumption in Mexican households. The project is partially funded by Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council
Aaron Gutierrez Turner, marketing manager for U.S. Meat Export Federation in Mexico, (left) translates for a group of Indiana farmers on a visit to a Mexican market to see where U.S. pork products are sold.
A Mexican consumer chooses pork from a grocery meat case where point-of-sale materials promoting pork are prominently displayed. This campaign is managed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation and funded by several U.S. checkoff organizations, including Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council.
The meat case in this Mexican grocery store prominently features point-of-sale materials promoting pork through a project managed by U.S. Meat Export Federation and funded by several U.S. checkoff organizations, including Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council.
Tom Griffiths, left, and Nick Maple look at a package of pork in a grocery store in Mexico City, Mexico during a trip to learn more about an Indiana soybean and corn checkoff-funded project looking to increase pork consumption in Mexico. Griffiths is the chairman of Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Livestock Committee and a farmer from Kendallville, Ind. Maple is an Indiana Pork director and pork producer from Amboy, Ind.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA is working to build new markets for soybeans through the promotion of biodiesel, livestock, grain marketing, aquaculture, new soybean uses, and research. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of the ISA’s 800 dues-paying members. Visit www.indianasoybean.com for more information.
The Indiana Corn Marketing Council was established by the Indiana General Assembly to promote the interest of corn growers in the state and manage corn checkoff funds. The Council is composed of 17 voting producer directors and seven appointed industry, and government representatives. For more information, visit www.incorn.org.
This communication was funded with corn and soybean checkoff dollars.