Consumer education drives Central America’s demand for U.S. pork

Experts provide nutritional facts, teach consumers to avoid overcooking.

2 Min Read

In 2023, pork exports to Central America climbed 20% year-over-year to a record $405.7 million. Export volume was the second largest on record at 137,500 metric tons, up 15% from 2022. Through February 2024, exports to the region jumped 17% from a year ago to more than 24,000 metric tons, while value soared 26% to $72.4 million. 

U.S. Meat Export Federation Regional Representative Lucia Ruano says consumer education programs funded through USDA and the National Pork Board have helped drive this growth.

"In Central America, they used to think that pork needs to be overcooked and maybe it's not as healthy as they would like," says Ruano. "But we have been educating and making all of these workshops where they can learn the nutritional facts because we bring experts to these type of workshops where they can have all that information firsthand from doctors, nutritionists -that give them the correct information of what pork proteins represent. We also teach them how to manage it, how to cook it."

Ruano notes that the Girls Can Grill series of workshops showed targeted consumers and influencers how to properly prepare U.S. pork cuts – especially the loin and tenderloin – and avoid overcooking. A successor campaign, titled Inspire Us, has a similar focus but examines alternative cooking methods in addition to grilling.


"Now we are coming into 2024 with another program that is called Inspire Us. It's like the second edition of Girls Can Grill, but in other methods of cooking U.S. pork cuts. And we focused on loin because loin is a very versatile muscle," Ruano says. "We not only make chops, but we did ribeyes, thicker cuts that visually it has a better look than just a thin chop. Also we have been using the tenderloin. So they learned that with the loin if it's well managed and not overcooked, and you have the correct side dishes, it has a great taste."

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