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Pork Buyers from Australia, New Zealand Tour U.S. Industry

Pork Buyers from Australia, New Zealand Tour U.S. Industry

Recently USMEF hosted a team of eight pork buyers from the Oceania region. With both Australia and New Zealand blossoming into strong growth markets for U.S. pork, this trade team visit was sponsored primarily by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (SDSRPC) as a means of further strengthening U.S. pork’s position with major buyers in the region. Support for the project was also provided by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

The primary goals for the team’s visit were to reinforce the product quality and profitability U.S. pork delivers for importers, traders and processors in this region, and to allow buyers to experience firsthand the U.S. pork industry’s capacity, production practices and food safety and inspection systems for a wide variety of pork cuts. The team met with several pork processors, fabricators and traders to discuss new business opportunities, and attended a half-day Pork 101 seminar at Iowa State University.

Buyers from Oceania meet with prospective suppliers in Des Moines
Slaughter plants visited included Farmland Foods in Crete, Neb., JBS in Marshalltown, Iowa, and the Tyson Foods plant in Storm Lake, Iowa. Fabrication facilities visited included Trim-Rite Foods in Carpentersville, Ill., Rose Packing in Chicago and LPB Inc. in Earlham, Iowa.

Retail store visits also provided participants with a better understanding of how pork and pork products are merchandised in the United States, while at the same time generating new marketing ideas that can be applied in their own countries. The wide variety of retail locations visited included Whole Foods, Fox & Obel, Trader Joe’s, Paulina Meat Market and Jewel Osco in Chicago, as well as a Walmart Supercenter and Costco in West Des Moines.

Another successful aspect of the tour was a “Meet The Buyers” luncheon held in Des Moines. Representatives from seven U.S. meat suppliers took advantage of this unique opportunity to engage the team in face-to-face business discussions. The participating suppliers were US World Food, LPB Inc., Pine Ridge Farm, Midwest Premier Foods, Vectra International and Seaboard Foods. Mark Fisher of the Iowa Department of Economic Development International Office opened the session with a few welcoming remarks.

“The team commented that the ‘Meet the Buyers’ luncheon was an especially useful activity as it provided a very time-efficient and productive venue in which to meet with U.S. traders and suppliers,” said Sabrina Yin, USMEF ASEAN director, who oversees the Oceania region. “Most of the participants were first-time visitors, even though some of them are already importing U.S. pork. Based on their feedback, all of them found the trip to be extremely interesting, informative and rewarding.”

“The SDSRPC board decided that hosting the trade team from Oceania would be a good investment in a new and emerging market,” said Marc Reiner, a grain farmer and livestock producer from Tripp, S.D., who serves on the SDSRPC and USMEF boards of directors. “It’s a part of the world where we haven’t done much work before and where U.S. pork hasn’t always had a major presence. So we decided that bringing a team of their importers to the United States to see how our livestock is produced and how our pork is processed will be a valuable tool for market development.”

Through the first quarter of 2011, pork exports (including variety meat) to the Oceania region totaled 20,399 metric tons (nearly 45 million pounds) valued at $63.6 million – an increase of 29 percent in volume and 73 percent in value over last year’s pace.