German-style sausages, dried meat sticks and a revitalized image for hams and loins are among recent initiatives developed to expand trade, retail and consumer demand for U.S. pork in Mexico.
Funded by the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, the U.S. Meat Export Federation's new product development program is a partnership with Mexican red meat processors and retailers to craft new pork products and promote them through demonstrations and tastings.
"We have been building this new product development program in recent years by holding workshops for processors and really putting an emphasis on creative ways to sell and serve pork," says Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF marketing director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic.
Lorenzo Elizalde, USMEF trade manager in Mexico, says USMEF's ongoing "U.S. Pork Processing: Innovation in Product Development" workshops have led to many new ideas and created potential for significant expansion of U.S. pork sales in Mexico.
"The workshops are a kind of 'think tank' for food professionals to come up with innovative ideas for pork," says Elizalde. "Be it new packaging, a new image campaign or a completely new product like pasteurized pork in a pouch that has a long shelf life, we have to be open to all possibilities. This approach is beneficial for both the U.S. pork industry and Mexican consumers."
Growth in Mexico's convenience store sector has also led to a demand for innovation.
"Convenience chains need affordable alternatives and good quality meat products for sandwiches and other items," says Elizalde. "USMEF has been working with meat processors to implement new products in the stores in order to give customers more alternatives, including healthy options with U.S. pork as the protein."
Among the products, partners and activities that were part of the new product development program in 2019:
Smoked hams, Grupo Capistrano
Grupo Capistrano, another major food distributor in Mexico, developed a smoked ham it labeled "Jamon familiar" for the country's traditional retail market. The objective was to gain market share by displacing similar products and other proteins such as turkey. U.S. smoked hams were promoted at Central de Abastos stores, Bara convenience stores and at Grupo Capistrano locations in the BajÍo area.
New packaging for hams and loins, RYC Alimentos
RYC, a major food distributor in Mexico, participated in the USMEF program by reengineering the packaging of U.S. hams and loins. These products were distributed at Sam's Club stores throughout the country with the objective of increasing sales of U.S. pork during the Christmas season.