Taiwanese consumers may soon be demanding more U.S. pork ribs after the U.S. Meat Export Federation recently conducted a series of tasting events and cooking classes in partnership with Chi Mei Food, a major food company in Taiwan. Funded by the United Soybean Board, the USDA Market Access Program and the National Pork Board, USMEF’s two-month-long promotion took place at the Chi Mei Happiness Factory, a facility in Tainan City that houses dining establishments and studios for cooking classes and food-related workshops.
CMHF is also equipped with on-site shopping facilities and regularly conducts tasting programs and educational sessions on food products. The U.S. pork rib tasting sessions were held during peak hours, five days each week. People visiting CMHF were given samples and educated on the quality and value of grain-fed U.S. pork.
“Ready-to-eat U.S. pork ribs were prepared by Jin Ku Food, a large pork importer in Taiwan,” says Davis Wu, USMEF director in Taiwan. “This particular pork product had only been sold to the banquet and catering sectors, but USMEF worked with Jin Ku Food to launch the U.S. pork ribs with retailers, with the goal of getting more Taiwanese consumers to try U.S. pork and become regular customers. These tasting events were an important part of that effort.”
Wu says that while pork consumption in Taiwan is very high, 90% of the pork consumed is domestic.
“Despite the high consumption of pork in Taiwan, it is rare to see U.S. pork products on display or on restaurant menus, as most of the imported U.S. pork is supplied to the food processing sector,” says Wu. “The lack of the visibility of U.S. pork means consumers cannot connect its superior taste to the actual product and its origin. The popularity of the Happiness Factory in southern Taiwan made it the perfect place to reach the country’s meat lovers and people who cook at home for their families.”
A display freezer filled with U.S. pork ribs was placed next to the tasting demonstration, enabling consumers to make the connection with U.S. pork and to purchase it immediately after tasting the ribs. Customers who could not make purchases on-site were given instructions on how to place online orders through mobile devices.
Cooking classes were held on weekends during the event period. Creative recipes using U.S. pork ribs with local twists were developed by the CMHF in-house executive chef.
Organizers of the cooking classes also produced a short video promoting U.S. pork ribs for the CMHF website and Facebook page. The video was shown on a large-screen display at the entrance of the CMHF facility.