While the United States has been one of Colombia’s leading meat suppliers for many years, the volume of trade with Colombia was significantly held back by high duties and other trade barriers. The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement, which entered into force in May 2012, has made this market much more accessible and allowed the U.S. industry to capitalize on Colombia’s growing economy and rapidly increasing demand for higher-quality proteins.
Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing and communications, explains that the business climate is particularly attractive for U.S. pork exporters serving Colombia’s meat processing sector. He adds, however, that retail chains such as Grupo Éxito are also featuring a wider range of fresh U.S. pork cuts in the meat case.
As a result, Colombia has emerged as this year’s leading destination for U.S. pork in the Central/South America region. Through July, pork exports to Colombia more than doubled in volume (16,982 metric tons, +105 percent) and increased 87 percent in value (to $43 million) over last year’s pace.
While Colombia is still a relatively small beef market, U.S. beef exports are growing rapidly as well – especially in the retail sector through leading supermarket chains such as Carrefour and Grupo Éxito. Through July, U.S. beef exports to Columbia were up 424 percent in volume (1,435 metric tons) from a year ago and climbed 391 percent in value ($4.4 million).
Halstrom adds that while market access has already improved significantly, Colombia holds great potential for further growth as nearly all duties on U.S. pork are to be phased out completely by 2016 and beef duties will be eliminated by 2021.