While Australia and New Zealand are well-known for their agricultural exports, the Oceania region is a thriving destination for imported pork. The United States has successfully captured a significant portion of this business, as Australia is currently the sixth-largest single-country destination for U.S. pork.
Through August, exports to Australia totaled 43,639 metric tons, up 8% from the same period last year, while export value was down 3% to $120.1 million. Exports to New Zealand were 20% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (4,694 mt) and 4% higher in value ($13.6 million).
U.S. pork is subject to significant restrictions in the region, with exports to Australia limited to cooked and processed pork products and boneless raw materials that must be shipped directly to an approved facility for further processing.
No fresh/frozen U.S. pork is allowed at the retail or foodservice level in Australia. Access to New Zealand is similar, although New Zealand does allow fresh/frozen U.S. pork in consumer-ready packages of 3 kilograms or less, and accepts both bone-in and boneless raw materials for further processing at approved facilities.
Even with these restrictions in place, the U.S. pork industry has built a significant presence in Oceania, with exports to the region peaking in 2012 at 76,801 mt valued at $236 million. Exports trended downward in 2013 and 2014 before regaining momentum last year. In 2016, exports are projected to reach 69,500 mt — not quite back to the peak level of 2012, but definitely on a positive trajectory. U.S. share of the imported pork market has also increased in 2016, climbing from 32% in 2015 to 37% in Australia, and from 10% to 12% in New Zealand.
With support from USDA Market Access Program and the Pork Checkoff, the U.S. Meat Export Federation recently promoted U.S. pork products at two major food exhibitions in the Oceania region.
Reaching cafés, quick-serve restaurants and catering companies was the main objective at Foodservice Australia, which attracted more than 5,000 buyers to the Royal Hall of Industries in Sydney. USMEF participated for the first time this year, using the opportunity to showcase U.S. pork’s advantages over competitors.
“This event is smaller in scale than Fine Food Australia — Australia’s largest food show – but the focus is on buyers from a fast-growing part of the foodservice industry,” says Feon Wong, a manager in USMEF’s Singapore office. “It’s an aspect of the market that is a good fit for U.S. pork, and we stressed the advantage of U.S. pork over the countries that we are competing with in the region.”
USMEF’s display featured a chiller filled with a range of U.S. pork products, including precooked bacon, sliced pepperoni, pulled pork with barbecue sauce, braised pork belly, cooked riblet patties with barbecue sauces and pork meatballs. Recipes for the dishes and other ideas for U.S. pork were shared with visitors, along with tasting samples.
“There was a lot of genuine interest from buyers at Foodservice Australia and we received many favorable comments, especially on the braised pork belly and riblet patties,” says Nicole Dehnert, a representative for Colby International, a USMEF member and Colorado-based export management company with an office in Australia.
Fine Food New Zealand
USMEF also recently promoted U.S. pork products at Fine Food New Zealand, an international showcase held every other year in Auckland. USMEF capitalized on U.S. pork’s flavor and quality to attract the attention of attendees, distributing samples of boneless ribs, pulled pork, glazed pork patties, pork meatballs with Portobello mushrooms, pepperoni and pre-cooked bacon.
Sabrina Yin, USMEF’s Singapore-based director who oversees promotional activities in Oceania and Southeast Asia, says the opportunity to reach key buyers in New Zealand is increasingly important as the market is attracting a growing number of competitors.
“In the New Zealand market, the most remarkable gain in share has to be Spanish pork,” she explains. “Spain was a small player in 2014 at about 300 mt, but last year its exports to New Zealand soared to more than 2,500 mt. In 2016, Spain’s presence has continued to grow, and it is now the leading pork exporter to New Zealand.”
Yin notes that Fine Food New Zealand is a very important venue for establishing new business relationships.
“This year we were able to communicate directly with foodservice operators, retailers and food distributors,” she says. “These relationships help us to better understand the challenges and product needs of end users, while also allowing us to strategize our future activities.”
Data sources: USDA, Global Trade Atlas and USMEF projections