A group of Iowa’s future agriculture leaders got a firsthand look at the world’s largest pork market when they traveled to China recently and joined in a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) program for the Chinese foodservice trade.
Chef Tony Guo prepared a variety of U.S. pork cuts in Guangzhou Twenty-three members of Iowa’s I-LEAD leadership training program, developed by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), were in China for an educational tour to better understand the challenges and opportunities that the country represents as an export market. The group participated in a USMEF U.S. pork event in Guangzhou for about 50 regional restaurant managers and chefs representing 19 hotels and restaurants. The I-LEAD members helped personally reinforce the commitment to quality and safety by American producers for the seminar participants.
The appeal of China for the visiting group from Iowa is clear. To put the China/Hong Kong pork market in perspective, the United States exported a record total of 385,214 metric tons of product there in 2012 valued at $832.5 million. Since the average person in China eats about 87 pounds of pork per year, that means the 950.5 million pounds of American pork sold there in 2012 accounted for only about eight-tenths of one percent of all pork consumed in China – or about enough pork to feed everyone in China for a three-day weekend. Which leaves 362 days to fill with domestic product or imports from other nations.
That doesn’t include China’s potential as a beef market. Last year China imported 314,437 metric tons (693.2 million pounds) of beef from countries around the globe valued at more than $1.3 billion – increases of 345 percent and 373 percent, respectively, over 2012. Unfortunately, U.S. beef remains ineligible for shipment to China.
Given the room for growth in China – the No. 3 market for U.S. pork – USMEF continues to pursue opportunities to expand the reach of U.S. pork, including the event in Guangzhou and a similar event in Beijing. Funding for the programs was provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Pork Checkoff.
“The experience of going to dinner with the chefs and buyers was eye-opening for our team,” said Shannon Textor, director of market development for ICPB who accompanied the I-LEAD team to China. “Quite a few of the pork producers in the class got a chance to share personal information about their farms – how they raise their livestock and how much they appreciate trade with China.”