The challenge for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in almost any world market is to find effective ways to bring safe, wholesome and tender U.S. meat together with the primary food purchasers in that country. In Mexico, currently the largest market for U.S. beef and pork, an effective strategy is to reward mothers for buying U.S. meat on a regular basis.
To recognize these mothers, USMEF conducts an annual promotion in Mexico, the largest market worldwide for U.S. red meat exports, rewarding U.S. meat consumers with an informative and entertaining afternoon celebration.
This year's promotion and event, funded by the United Soybean Board, pork and beef checkoffs and USDA Market Access Program, was held May 6 for 3,200 consumers at the Metropolitan Theater in Mexico City.
“This type of promotion is very popular in Mexico and helps build demand for U.S. red meat among our most important customers – mothers who are the primary purchasers for their families,” said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director of Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
To attend the event, consumers had to purchase at least 33 pounds of U.S. pork or beef from March 5 to May 5 at any of the 120 Commercial Mexicana, Gigante and Chedraui stores in the Mexico City area that participated.
Sales of U.S. red meat products at participating stores during the promotion increased 66 percent compared to last year. Individual cuts increased as much as 84 percent. For example, U.S. beef gooseneck steak, valued at more than $802,000, sold this year, compared to $435,000 last year.
“Working with Mexico's dynamic supermarket sector, which is a huge marketing channel for our products, is an effective method to reach many consumers,” said Russell. “The end result is mothers are now in the habit of purchasing U.S. meat products that their families enjoy due to the high quality and great taste U.S. meat provides.”
Tickets for the event sold out April 27, a week before the promotion ended. This year's show featured Yahir, a popular Mexican singer who won a contest similar to American Idol. USMEF also presented information on the nutrition and cooking methods of U.S. pork and beef.
“The promotion also encouraged purchases of new or low rotation U.S. red meat products, such as case-ready beef knuckle milanesa and pork milanesa,” Russell said.
Gigante sold U.S. beef knuckle milanesa for the first time this year with a sales value of $55,617 while sales increased 25 percent to $185,100 at Chedraui stores. Sales of pork milanesa at Gigante and Chedraui, the two stores featuring the product, increased 51 percent to $164,305 compared to last year.
“USMEF also used the promotion as an opportunity to train meat department personnel about U.S. red meat products, to use safe handling and to merchandise in an appealing manner,” Russell said. ”Results of this training effort continue after the promotion ends since meat department personnel now understand how to cut, handle and merchandise U.S. pork and beef and have the confidence to answer questions or make suggestions to consumers.”
Mexico was the No. 1 market for U.S. pork and pork variety meat last year as exports totaled 356,418 metric tons (mt) valued at $557.9 million. It was also the largest market for U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports, which reached 371,087 mt valued at $1.2 billion.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, lamb, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.