U.S. packers are looking for new ways to ship more pork and beef overseas. The U.S. Meat Export Federation is visiting with packers this week to identify "alternative cuts or items” and determine whether they can have added value, primarily through packaging, for export to Latin America.

“One of the key export products to the region has been pork and beef variety meat,” says Ricardo Vernazza-Paganini, USMEF director Central and South America. “While variety meat is low in demand and price in the  U.S.market, these products are largely consumed by Central and South American consumers. Therefore, we understand there is an opportunity to increase the margins of these low-value commodities.”

Latin America now accounts for less than 2 percent of all U.S. beef and pork exports. This leaves U.S. companies uninspired to produce products specifically geared toward the Latin America market. 

“We want to raise the level of awareness of this market,"  Kevin Smith, USMEF assistant director of export services. That involves sitting down with packers to investigate the potential for cuts that may be remaining after packers have shipped cuts to other markets. There is a lost opportunity.

Following the packer discussions, USMEF will present pictures, cut specifications and other information to importers in Latin America to show potential buyers the variety of U.S. products available. 

“U.S. packers tend to approach the Latin American market by selling products that cannot be sold elsewhere,” says Vernazza-Paganini. “Therefore, working on alternative cuts can prove more valuable to this region.”

One such example involves pork tenderloins. While U.S. supermarket chains demand tenderloins of a consistent shape, size and weight, tenderloin tips are left behind. Producing products that could market those tips and fill an export need is a win-win.

U.S. Meat Export Federation