The U.S. Meat Export Federation and a delegation of Iowa meat, livestock and grain industry representatives recently returned from touring one of the world’s fastest-growing red meat import markets. Joel Haggard,USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, who led the market visit to the Philippines, says the wide range of red meat products is driving record U.S. exports to the Southeast Asian nation.
“The overall market trend consists of increased meat consumption and trade,” Haggard says. “On a tonnage basis the country is already the sixth largest meat and poultry import market and last year’s total imports surged to approximately 850,000 tons, nearly 20% above 2017.”
Last year was a record-breaking year for U.S. exports to the Philippines, with pork exports of nearly 48,000 metric tons, up 23% from 2017, valued at $116.1 million (up 19%). Beef exports were nearly 18,000 mt valued at $87 million - up 39% and 42%, respectively.
“The portfolio of cuts ranges from very high-end steaks to very inexpensive items such as pork ear base, pork livers and other lower cost variety meats,” Haggard says.
However, Haggard says rapid economic growth is helping generate demand for higher-end products.
“The country on one hand is very sensitive to international prices. The Philippines remains poor with a fifth of its population below the Philippines’ definition of a poverty line and the majority of protein imports are further processed into low cost items such as hot dogs, canned meats and formed ham products,” Haggard says. “But overall economic growth is also creating a consumption upgrade effect which is seeing more demand for more premium items.”
Evidence of economic growth was everywhere on the delegation’s recent trip to Manilla, especially with new restaurant and retail concepts, Haggard says.
He notes that USMEF has increased its presence and the level of promotional activities in the Philippines in recent years, and this trend will likely continue as new growth opportunities emerge.
“USMEF continues to place more and more resources in the market and placed permanent representation in Manilla in the spring of 2016,” Haggard says. “We look forward to spending more time and resources there in the future.”