When year-end results are final, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said U.S. pork exports to Central America will set a new record in 2016, with growth achieved in all seven Central American countries – six of which (all except Belize) were top 20 destinations for U.S. pork.
Gerardo Rodriguez, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) marketing director in the region, said in addition to the mainstay markets of Honduras and Guatemala, U.S. pork exporters are also finding excellent growth opportunities in smaller Central American markets.
“We have, obviously, the leading markets, such as Honduras (and) Guatemala, but at the same time, we need to go to the different markets among the region,” he said. “We don’t have one specific strategy for the whole region, so we can do a tailor-made strategy with them and try to be as effective as we can.”
Promotional efforts in these countries are bolstered by lower import duties achieved through the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, as well as the upward trend in U.S. pork production. These factors are making a wider range of U.S. pork cuts available to Central American buyers at more affordable prices.
Rodriguez said the growth is also happening because USMEF is there working on behalf of U.S. meat.
“The different countries have different duties at this point, but it’s moving forward. The amount of tariff that has been paid at this point over quota has been (declining) every time, so we have been able to be reachable,” he said, adding that there is more product coming from the U.S.
Through November 2016, U.S. pork exports to Central America reached 61,764 metric tons valued at $146.7 million, an increase of 19% in volume and 13% in value over the previous year’s pace.