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CATTLE TODAY

“THE OTHER WHITE MEAT” TAKES CENTER STAGE IN GUATEMALA

For generations, consumers in South America have believed that pork is not safe to eat due to animal disease and consumption by hogs of food scraps or tainted food. Last year the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) launched a long-term effort to reverse these negative perceptions with the goal of expanding the market for safe U.S. pork.

Then, in May, USMEF launched the second phase of its effort – a comprehensive U.S. pork promotion in Guatemala City at 30 stores of a supermarket called Paiz, recently purchased by Wal-Mart. USMEF is working with two importing companies that import and sell many U.S. products in the region.

“Working with the same importers during the promotion creates a sense of ownership in this endeavor and provides consistent products consumers can rely on,” said Ricardo Vernazza-Paganini, USMEF director of Central and South America. “Partnering with stores owned by Wal-Mart extends the outreach of U.S. pork products to potential consumers because of this large retailer.”

Vernazza-Paganini projects it will take at least five years to see a significant shift in consumer perception of pork. USMEF started this effort last year working with Guatemalan pork producers to conduct a generic pork promotion. This second phase focuses on U.S. pork – La Otra Carne Blanca (The Other White Meat) – and features U.S. pork loin, sirloin and fresh hams.

“This promotion targets medium-high to high-income consumers due to the price of U.S. pork being higher than domestic products,” said Vernazza-Paganini. “Consumers shopping at participating Paiz stores will be able to taste prepared U.S. pork products to help them make a purchasing decision.”

Advertisements on television and in local newspapers, popular food magazines and billboards, in addition to in-store posters and banners, will draw consumer attention to the promotion, which runs up to the Christmas season.

Some 20 easy-to-prepare recipes that utilize U.S. pork also will be available to consumers as part of a joint effort with the Guatemala Chef Association to produce the recipes. Educating shoppers on how to cut, cook and serve U.S. pork is part of the process of changing overall attitude about pork. Consumers will be satisfied if they can use U.S. pork quickly and easily to prepare an appetizing and nutritious meal.

Vernazza-Paganini said to increase the success of the campaign, USMEF is working with a major public relations company office in Guatemala City to create campaign materials that have maximum consumer impact in addition to leveraging the company's standing in the market to secure prime advertisements spots.

The promotion is funded by the National Pork Board and the USDA Market Access Program.

Last year U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to Guatemala increased 39 percent in volume to 5,028 metric tons and 22 percent in value to $10.2 million compared to 2005.

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.

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