Recognizing that U.S. ham prices are traditionally low during the months of January and February, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently teamed with seven retail chains in Northern Mexico for a "U.S. Pork Hams to the Rescue" promotion.

USMEF designed the promotion to increase exports of U.S. hams to Mexico during this low-price period, as well as to position U.S. hams as affordable, safe, flavorful and easy to prepare.

While USMEF had worked individually with each of the participating retailers in the past to expand U.S. pork sales, this was the first time that the chains agreed to promote U.S. pork under a common theme. More than 80 stores participated in the promotion.

USMEF and the retailers implemented a newspaper and radio advertising campaign to inform consumers of the promotion. Consumers also learned about new recipe ideas and the nutritional attributes of U.S. pork through local television cooking shows, featuring a USMEF nutrition consultant, and in-store publicity and taste sampling.

USMEF leveraged USDA Market Access Promotion funds with contributions from participating retailers, the United Soybean Board and the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board to fund this promotion.

Sales of U.S. pork hams during the February promotion increased substantially, with the participating chains reporting year-to-year sales increases of 40% to 250%. The combined increase in U.S. pork hams was 54% greater than during February of 2000.

In 2000, total U.S. pork exports grew 12% in volume to more than 566,000 metric tons, while value grew 18% to $1.3 billion. Exports now account for more than 8 percent of U.S. pork production on a wholesale weight basis.

Source: USMEF press release