The National Pork Board will elevate U.S. pork as the global protein of choice by continuously and collaboratively working to do what’s right for people, pigs and the planet. The National Pork Board is the catalyst that unites pork producers with key stakeholders focused on building a bright future for the pork industry through research, promotion and education.
The Dominican Republic’s growing economy and thriving tourism sector have boosted its viability as a trading partner in the last decade. Thanks to the CAFTA-DR, a free trade agreement between Central America, the U.S., and the Dominican Republic, most goods are freely traded with limited or no tariffs. Unfortunately, some imported agricultural products still have tariffs and quotas in place to protect the domestic industry. Tariffs are intended to be phased out by 2020, but for now, the tax on pork imports over quota remains around 6%. Nevertheless, U.S. pork exports to the Dominican Republic totaled 94 million pounds in 2018, a 38% increase from 2017. The value of these exports also increased by 30% to $92.5 million.
Expansion of U.S. Pork Exports to the Dominican Republic over time
The Dominican Republic and neighboring nation, Haiti, make up the Island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic accounts for 18,800 square miles of total area, which is twice the size of the state of New Jersey. The climate on the eastern side of the island is tropical maritime, and its landscape includes rugged highlands, mountains, and fertile valleys. The population of the Dominican Republic was a reported 10.7 million in 2018, with nearly a third of the population living in the capital city of Santo Domingo. The Dominican Republic is the 20th largest export market for U.S. agricultural products. Exports totaled $1.3 billion in 2018, which is a 27% increase over the past decade.
According to the USDA, 2018 U.S. agricultural exports totaled $1.3 billion, a 27% increase from 2008.
While the U.S. already owns 96% of The Dominican Republic market share for pork imports, an opportunity lies with the country’s potential for increased consumption. Per capita pork consumption in the Dominican Republic is about 26 pounds per year, which is the 5th lowest of all U.S. pork trading partners. The country is only 58% self-sufficient in pork production, so an increase in consumption would likely increase pork imports. Pork is second to poultry in terms of consumption, and in total the country ranks on the lower end of per capita meat consumption. Poultry is also the leader in production, followed by pork and beef, which have both trended slightly lower in the past decade. While total domestic protein production has decreased since 2008, rising incomes and demand from a growing tourism sector will continue to increase protein consumption.
Total protein production has not increased over the last decade.
According to a report by the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), traditional channels are the cornerstone of the retail sector in the Dominican Republic. While modern channels such as supermarket chains, independent markets, and convenience stores are prominent in urban areas, the traditional channel owns 70-80% of the country’s retail food business. Neighborhood stores called “calmados” and walk-in food warehouses called “almacenes” are located in street markets and target low-to-middle income families. These traditional retail vendors have followed the national trends of increasing store size and product selection, which has allowed them to maintain such high market share. Consumers in the Dominican Republic are also beginning to place higher importance on the quality and nutritional value of their food. The GAIN report states that U.S. products are well regarded and deemed consistent with this developing standard.
For the time being, the most significant challenges in the Dominican market are the continued tariff and VAT tax rates, institutional continuity within the nation, and complying with Spanish labeling standards. Competing exporters in this market include Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Denmark, Spain, and Costa Rica. As the Dominican Republic continues to develop its food distribution channels and phase out of agricultural duties on U.S. products, it has the potential to be a consistent and valuable market for U.S. pork.
Citizens of the Dominican Republic have begun to place more and more value on high quality and healthy products which serves as a great opportunity for U.S. exporters. The GAIN report states that Dominican consumers are strongly influenced by U.S. culture and place high value and trust in U.S. products. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) strives to stay present in this market by hosting educational cooking displays, workshops, and collaborating with Dominican importers. Also, events like the annual Latin American Product Showcase provide opportunities for customers in the Dominican Republic to connect with U.S. pork exporters. Marketing U.S. pork as a safe, consistent, and delicious product can help build more frequent consumption habits and a stronger customer base.
Central and South American markets are a vital piece of the U.S. pork export picture and represent significant growth opportunities for the industry. Representatives from the National Pork Board had the opportunity to explore the priorities of these markets and meet with key industry members recently at the Latin American Product Showcase, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The showcase is an annual event, hosted by the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Attendees represented over 23 countries and included packers, distributors, import/export companies, producers and government representatives.
Over 65 U.S. pork exporters attended the 2019 Latin American Product Showcase. Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation
The two-day event consisted of importer and exporter networking events and industry speakers. Attendees heard from Josué Merced-Reyes of Inter-E-marketing on the importance of marketing to millennial and Gen Z families as well as Maggie O’Quinn of Midan Marketing on how emerging alternative meat products present future opportunities for the U.S. meat industry. National Pork Board attendees also participated in a market retail tour by visiting three meat retailers of various sizes.
National Pork Board attendees included Norman Bessac, vice president of International Marketing, Brady Reicks of Reicks View Farms, Lincoln Langhorst of Wakefield Pork and me (Holly Cook, International Marketing Intern). While our group shared an objective of representing U.S. pork and sharing its story, each attendee had slightly different takeaways from the event.
As a U.S. territory, many familiar brands were present in Puerto Rican supermarket meat cases. However, some products and cuts featured in Puerto Rico are not typically available from large commercial retailers in the U.S. Our group also noticed country of origin labeling on all meat products which lets consumers know whether their pork was raised in the U.S., Canada or domestically.
Minnesota pork producer, Lincoln Langhorst gained a new understanding and appreciation for the export process. “It was quite an eye-opener on how dynamic it can be getting the product in the hands of the end consumer. Many different companies work together to bring pork from places like Iowa and Minnesota to Latin America.”
While at the showcase, Lincoln also visited with a buyer from Econo, one of the largest pork buyers in Puerto Rico. Both parties found this interaction very beneficial, as Econo sources pork from the same company where Lincoln’s farm sells its pigs.
Minnesota pork producer Lincoln Langhorst (right) visits with a pork buyer from Econo (left).
With 37 years of experience in the international pork business, attending the Latin American Product Showcase allowed Norman Bessac to reconnect with past business partners. It was not Norman’s first time attending the event, but the first time attending as a representative for all U.S. pork. Norman enjoyed meeting with both importers and exporters while discussing the strengths and opportunities facing the U.S. industry. Trading companies were eager to share feedback received from their customers regarding pig size preference and most popular cuts.
After my first six weeks as an International Marketing intern, this trip was an excellent way for me to see firsthand how international business relationships are formed. While I have researched several Latin American markets, this event helped me to better understand the needs and priorities of these customers.
Being present at the showcase also confirmed what I had read about the importance of relationship building and personal connections in Latin American business. This event allowed importers and exporters to engage in several structured sessions as well as less formal dinners and receptions. It was eye-opening to see how many parties are involved in getting U.S. pork from the farm to its export customers.
As reported by many USDA Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) reports and observed at the showcase, U.S. pork has earned a reputation for being a safe, high quality and delicious product for Central and South American consumers. By continuing to build relationships in Latin America and sharing the U.S. pork story, demand for U.S. products has great potential to grow. reports and observed at the showcase, U.S. pork has earned a reputation for being a safe, high quality, and delicious product for Central and South American consumers. By continuing to build relationships in Latin America and telling the U.S. pork story, demand for U.S. products has great potential to grow.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) assists with these efforts by incorporating U.S. pork into Latin American cuisine and representing the interests of the U.S. industry in these markets. USMEF also works to diversify the use of pork and pork products in export markets around the world. The Latin American Product Showcase provided an excellent opportunity for pork trade stakeholders to make connections, receive industry updates and fulfill a critical part of the U.S. pork export process.
Pork Profit Maximizer – Retail Edition
July 8, 2019
Total US pork exports in May were 172,170 MT, 1.1% lower than a year ago. US pork exports to China continue to improve and in May were 19,310 MT, more than double the volume exported last year. Exports to a number of other smaller markets, such as Colombia and Australia were also significantly higher than a year ago. However, high prices in April and May limited the volume of pork sold to traditional markets and the decline in that segment of trade offset gains in US trade with China.
Shipments to Mexico, the big- gest market for US pork, were 40,357 MT, 32% lower than a year ago. Exports to South Korea were 20,276 MT, 3.9% lower than last year. While the decline in exports to Mexico was quite dramatic, we also think it may be short-lived and likely reflected negotiations over tariffs. Weekly trade data shows a significant improvement in US pork exports and pork export sales in June. US pork export sales to Mexico during the four June weeks were 78% higher than a year ago. Pork export sales to China, however, were sharply lower during June even as China current- ly has a significant amount of pork purchased for delivery in the second half of the year.
Pork Profit Maximizer – Foodservice Edition
July 8, 2019
The total inventory of all hogs and pigs as of June 1 was estimated at 75.026 million head 3.6% higher than a year ago. This comes in higher than the 3% average expected from the pre-report estimates. This is the largest June invento- ry of all hogs and pigs, setting a new record for the 4th straight year. The inventory of market hogs as of June 1 was 69.11 million head, 3.9% higher than a year ago and also a new record for June 1. The market inventory was higher than the 3.1% average expected in the pre-report estimates.
According to the latest USDA Hogs and Pigs Report, the U.S. swine inventory totals 75.5 million head, up four percent from last year. That’s the highest June 1 total since this series of reports began in 1964. The breeding herd inventory is up one percent from June of last year. The market hog inventory is up four percent. The March-May pigs-per-litter total was up 3.5 percent higher than last year at 11 head. The Pork Checkoff hosted a media briefing after the release of the report. Analysts Dale Durchholz of Grain Cycles, Scott Brown of the University of Missouri and Lee Schulz of Iowa State University offer their views on the report in this edition of Pork Pod.
Pork Profit Maximizer – Food Service Edition
June 24, 2019
The supply of pork coming to market on a weekly basis so far in June has been far higher than anyone could imagine even a month ago. Note that the chart shows a rolling four week moving average. Last week, pork production was up 16.4% compared to a year ago and in the two weeks prior production was up 10.8% and 8.4%, respectively. This means that in the last three weeks weekly pork production has averaged about 55 million pounds higher than it was a year ago. While exports are better than they were last year, they are nowhere close to absorbing this additional supply. Weekly USDA pork export data shows that exports of fresh/ frozen pork are currently running about 7 million pounds/wk higher than last year. This represents just 12% of the additional supply of pork that has come to market in the last few weeks, it is an even smaller share of the 74 million additional pounds that packers produced last week.