Colombia is a robust market for U.S. pork and beef, much of which is sold through butcher shops owned by or affiliated with meat importers. With support from the USDA Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, the National Pork Board and the Beef Checkoff Program, the U.S. Meat Export Federation is partnering with many of these shops to improve and expand the merchandising of U.S. red meat.
USMEF Colombia Representative Don Mason explains that one important aspect of the butcher shop program is to educate shop operators about the quality and safety of U.S. red meat and to help them address customers' concerns about purchasing frozen cuts.
"About 50% or more of the meat that comes into Colombia is sold through butcher shops owned by, or in a contractual arrangement with, some of our importers. The U.S. livestock industry delivers excellent quality, completely safe products right to the docks in Colombia and our effort here is to try to extend that quality, that safety of that U.S. product all the way through to the final customer," Mason says. "There are some beliefs, myths, if you will, about the reason for frozen meat or the quality of frozen meat, and so in our pork efforts, we'd make sure that people understand why it is that that pork is being frozen, how that actually guarantees better quality given the circumstances, the distribution network in Colombia and so on. That's actually a preferred way to handle meat. And then also to make sure that when they go out of that store, they know how to handle that meat and how to defrost it properly."
Mason adds that the program took on particular importance as Colombia was emerging from COVID-related restrictions. Consumer interest in high-quality meat to prepare at home, which increased greatly during the pandemic, continues to be strong even as Colombia's restaurant traffic rebounds.
"For us to be in those shops and working through that period of expansion - reexpansion if you will, it was advantageous to us to be involved with them as they're gaining those sales back and now hopefully, with our assistance, gaining them back in a way that can be sustainable," Mason says. "You know, these folks were all of a sudden unable to go out and eat in restaurants. I saw barbeque grills popping up on balconies all over Bogota and those folks wanted good quality meat to put on those barbecue grills. What we managed to do there was to help tide them over. Now coming out the other side, hopefully it'll be the best of both worlds. We'll get that restaurant business back but we'll maintain what they were substituting."
USMEF reports that 26 butcher shops are currently participating in the program, with many more locations targeted for potential partnerships.
Source: U.S. Meat Federation, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.