Pork Checkoff Invests in Export Development

 

With large hog supplies, it is critically important to move pork both domestically and internationally. National Pork Board President Terry O’Neel, who farms and Friend, Nebraska, says exports are the key…

“They’re pretty much flat, domestically, we’re about 50-51 pounds domestically, over the last 20 years.  We’re still…a lot of people are eating pork, we still need to work on that.  But, we feel a lot of it needs to go out through the export market.  We’ve got developing countries that are buying more meat, more protein, we know that offers an opportunity for us and we want to capitalize on that.”                

The Pork Checkoff partners with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to sell product overseas. The two groups partner on trade missions to places like Mexico, Japan and China. It was an eye-opening experience…

“Particularly in Asia, the pork industry aside, just the growth that’s going on in China, all the building that’s going on, all the technology that they’re starting to implement, but yet, they’ve got a lot to do to catch up with our pork industry as far as their domestic production.

“They’re producing 98% domestically, and two percent is being imported,  but 2% times 1.4 billion people is a lot of pork.”    

O’Neel says it is important to listen to our customers. That may require some changes…

“Well, the main thing we need to remember is, that it’s US product, but we need to fit their specifications.  That’s one of the challenges we have, that we’ve noticed, our hogs, of course, are getting larger.  We’re slaughtering almost 300 pound pigs, they get a little concerned about our cut sizes, our pigs.  They want specifications, particularly in China, they want them so they will fit into the slicers, so they can slice those products.  So, it comes back to the packers that maybe we need to look at those specs a little harder.”                    

O’Neel says the Chinese buyer is also looking at how U.S. pork is packaged…

“Even box color, things like that.  Things that attract the consumer and the buyer in the market.  The color of the boxes, brightly colored.  Also, presentation, if the pig feet are in a nice soldier style in a line, or if we have individually wrapped product, they really like that.  Sometimes they don’t want to thaw out a whole box at times, because there’s a lot of frozen products.

“There’s a lot of things we can do and improve upon as far as specifications.”

During the trade mission to China, the National Pork Board delegation participated in the China Swine Industry Summit.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.