Difference Makers: Javier Garcia Gonzalez, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)
Adding Value to Meat in Mexico
Javier Garcia Gonzalez, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)
What is USMEF doing in Mexico to bring new U.S. pork products to market?
USMEF is working together with our members and business partners in Mexico to launch new products in the marketplace. We provide the opportunity to consumers to familiarize themselves with these products by allowing them to taste them and receive information about their attributes and uses. We hold workshops for processors and put an emphasis on creative ways to sell and serve pork. This speeds up the adoption process of new products in the Mexican market.
For example the last two years, we grilled and served pork in two of Mexico’s major urban centers on Superbowl Sunday to fans of American football. We introduced pork dishes that go well with these types of gatherings, including U.S. pork belly, sausages and pork barbecue.
Why are you implementing this new product strategy?
Since roughly 63 percent of the pork imported by Mexico is ham, we are looking to expand the variety of products sold to our business partners there. We are always looking to maximize the business profit of our members and business partners by marketing higher value products, as well as providing better shopping experiences to end consumers with innovative options.
For example, growth in Mexico’s convenience store sector has led to a demand for innovation. Convenience chains need affordable alternatives and good quality meat products for sandwiches and other items. USMEF works with meat processors to introduce new products in the stores to give customers more alternatives, including healthy options with U.S. pork.
What types of new products are you promoting?
We have two big categories of new products. The first is generic new cuts and the second is specific branded items that include value-added cuts like marinated, portioned and cooked pork. German-style sausages, dried meat sticks and a revitalized image for hams and loins are among the items developed to expand trade, retail and consumer demand for U.S. pork in Mexico.
Has this type of product innovation worked in other parts of the world?
Yes. In the United States there is a lot of development and innovation when it comes to new pork products. The U.S. meat industry has the capacity for new product development, as well as for meeting needs of consumers wanting alternatives that are practical, convenient and innovative.
How are Illinois soybean farmers assisting with this effort?
Illinois soybean farmers provide checkoff support year after year, together with our other funding sources. This is of great importance to us, since it allows us to be close to end consumers and to provide them with complete solutions to their needs. For example, ISA is helping fund the Ideal U.S. Meat Case Program where we identify U.S. pork at the point of sale.
What is the measurable goal of success with this effort?
We are looking for increased consumer shopping experiences through more product options at the point of sale and increased volume of exports to Mexico of pork products besides ham.
Javier Garcia Gonzalez has worked with USMEF in Monterrey, Mexico, for 11 years and leads its retail sector work. Previously, he worked for Soriana, the second largest retailer in Mexico, as a meat buyer. More information is found at www.usmef.org/international-markets/mexico/.