A 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 two years ago.

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 Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Illinois Soybean Association, United Soybean Board, Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

The people of Mexico currently consume about 35 lb. of pork per person each year. When you compare that to other markets, like the United States (about 46 lb.) and China (84 lb.), USMEF sees opportunity.

While Mexico is about 65% self-sufficient in pork production, the United States supplies the lion’s share of imports – about 90% – 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 appeal of this campaign is that it benefits all participants – the U.S. pork industry as well as our Mexican counterparts.  Historically, many Mexican consumers have not viewed pork as their first protein choice.  This campaign fosters the image of pork as a delicious center-of-the-plate option for daily meals served in the home.

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 include:

·       A 23% increase in consumers reporting pork consumption over the past month (from 52% to 75%)

·       Improved association between pork and good nutrition and health (from 31 % to 58%)

·       Increased intent to consume pork within the next two weeks (from 59% to 68%)

In addition, feedback is very positive from Mexican retailers participating in the campaign.  Soriana, the second-largest supermarket operator in Mexico with more than 600 stores, reported that its pork sales jumped 58% in the first year of its participation in the campaign.

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Similarly, the Mexican meat processors association Comecarne has voiced its approval for the campaign. 

“We think it is crucial to provide the public with sound information about pork, and the campaign’s approach, focused on flavor and versatility, is a very positive one,” said Guillermo Maynez, executive president of Comecarne.  “Pork means excellent protein at accessible prices.”

In this rapidly growing nation of 112 million people, USMEF sees a welcoming audience for the pork campaign’s message of the flavor, fun and family enjoyment associated with meals centered around pork.

Last year (2012) was a record year for U.S. pork sales to Mexico, totaling 600,949 metric tons (1.3 billion pounds) valued at more than $1.1 billion.  This year started off somewhat slowly as an overabundance of domestic pork flooded the market and lowered prices, but exports have since rebounded.

Through the first seven months of 2013, U.S. pork exports to Mexico are up 2% in volume and 3% in value compared to last year, and July totals were up 20.8% in volume and 29.4 % in value over July 2012.  Mexico remains the No. 1 volume market for U.S. pork exports, No. 2 in value behind Japan.

The USMEF pork campaign includes both national and regional radio and 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.

Pork is a key component in holiday menus, so USMEF is planning a surge of activity around November and December. 

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