Nick Maple, a pork producer from Amboy, Ind., actually smiled as he walked into a meat market in Mexico City, Mexico, earlier this year. Why? He saw 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 and Indiana Corn Marketing Council organized the trip to Mexico City for a group of Hoosier soybean, corn and pork farmers. It was an opportunity to see firsthand a checkoff-funded project designed to increase pork consumption in Mexico – ultimately increased U.S. pork exports.
The project, launched three years ago, is generating positive results. The multi-year imaging campaign is designed to improve Mexican consumers' perceptions of pork and ultimately raise consumption levels.
"The people of Mexico currently consume about 35 pounds of pork per person each year," said Tom Griffiths, chairman of ISA's livestock committee from Kendallville, Ind. "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% self-sufficient in pork production, the United States supplies the lion's share of imports – about 90%. The U.S. 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, U.S. Meat Export Federation regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. "Historically, mamy 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.