A pork buying team with 10 members from Singapore and Malaysia toured U.S. meat production facilities in October in order to gain an understanding of the attributes and availability of U.S. pork.
The team first toured Iowa pork producer locations, then moved to Chicago to tour retail facilities, with a third planned stop in Atlanta to meet with traders.
The team is made up of representatives of companies interested in foodservice and retail pork, manufacturing pork materials and offal. Some of the companies are looking to buy U.S. processed pork products.
The team's leader, Eric Choon, says that 2006 sales to date of U.S. pork and pork variety meat in Southeast Asia increased 38% in tonnage and 53% in value over the same period of 2005.
"Both the restaurant and retail trade in Southeast Asia are more accepting of U.S. pork," he says.
Although Malaysia is mostly a Muslim nation, the ethnic Chinese there - a smaller demographic, but one with a generally higher disposable income - create a demand for pork.
Domestic pork production is declining in Malaysia, meaning the country will have to import more. The U.S. exported 226 metric tons of pork, worth $326,000, to Malaysia through August 2006.