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Iowa delegation travels to one of fastest-growing meat importers

Economic growth in Philippines currently creating consumption upgrade effect.

A delegation of producers and other agriculture industry leaders from Iowa recently completed a market visit to the Philippines, where they examined of one of the world's fastest-growing red meat import markets.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), 2018 was a record-breaking year for U.S. exports to the Philippines, with pork exports of nearly 48,000 metric tons, up 23% from 2017, that were valued at $116.1 million, up 19%. Beef exports totaled nearly 18,000 mt, up 39%, valued at $87 million, up 42%.

“The overall market trend consists of increased meat consumption and trade,” said USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific Joel Haggard, who helped lead the delegation on the trip. “On a tonnage basis, the country is already the sixth-largest meat and poultry import market. Last year’s total imports surged to approximately 850,000 tons, nearly 20% above 2017.”

Haggard explained that while a large percentage of U.S. export volume to the Philippines consists of lower-cost muscle cuts and variety meat used for further processing, rapid economic growth is helping generate demand for higher-end products.

“The country, on one hand, is very sensitive to international prices. The Philippines remains poor, with a fifth of its population below the Philippine definition of a poverty line,” he explained. “The majority of the proteins it imports are further processed into low-cost items such as hot dogs, canned meat and formed ham products.”

However, economic growth is currently creating a consumption upgrade effect, which is resulting in increased demand for more premium items, he added.

USMEF pointed out that it has increased its presence and the level of promotional activities in the Philippines in recent years, and this trend will likely continue as new growth opportunities emerge.

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