Trade team builds customer relationships, explores new opportunities
Sustainability isn’t just top of mind for consumers in the U.S., it’s also a growing concern for pork consumers around the globe. During a recent trade mission to Colombia, U.S. pig farmers shared their We CareSM sustainability story with key customers and learned more about the valuable market.
“Colombia was the second-largest growth market for U.S. pork exports in 2018,” said Norman Bessac, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The trade team looked at opportunities to build on that momentum to further increase sales.”
The U.S. pork industry’s market share in Colombia has grown each year since the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement in 2012, Bessac noted. A lot of the work to open this market has been done by the National Pork Producers Council, Bessac noted.
Building Relationships
U.S. producers took the opportunity to engage both current and prospective Colombian customers, distributors and traders and in-country USDA officials. The National Pork Board partnered with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) on the trade mission.
“We build many relationships when we go on these trade missions, and those relationships often develop into business for our industry today and in the future,” said pork producer Glenn Stolt, president and CEO of Christensen Farms.
“The trip underscored the positive work being done by organizations such as the USMEF and how our customers perceive U.S. pork and our industry,” Stolt said. “We saw firsthand what sets us apart from the competition and heard from the people making decisions about the products they buy.”
According to Bessac, a key topic in meetings was the Colombian customers’ confidence in the consistency and quality of U.S. pork. 
“One of the most significant issues exporters have is at the port of entry for U.S. products,” Bessac said. “There is a strong need to streamline the export/import process to reduce costs and avoid detentions at the border. This is an area where the Pork Checkoff can work with its partners at the USMEF to benefit our Colombian customers.”
We CareSM Resonates
U.S. trade delegation members participated in two seminars with customers, one in Bogota and the other in Medellín.
“We shared U.S. pork producers’ We Care sustainability message with key customers,” Bessac said. “They appreciated hearing about it from the producers on the team.”
Seminar attendees also had the chance to tour a U.S. pig farm through the Pork Checkoff’s new virtual reality video.
“Sharing our sustainability story is becoming more and more important here at home and abroad,” said Terry O’Neel, a pork producer from Friend, Nebraska, who shared about his family farm during the seminars. “They listened intently about our on-farm practices, but also were interested in proof points, such as how we have reduced our environmental impact.”
 “As producers, we are trying to drive our market price, and we want potential customers to recognize that we have a safe and consistent product they can rely on – that’s the message we shared in Colombia,” said Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Minnesota, who chairs the USMEF Pork and Allied Industries Committee. “For me, it’s an excellent chance to see how my Checkoff funds are being used in foreign markets to increase value back to me on my farm.”
The Pork Checkoff provided funding for the trade mission.
Original article Feb. 11, The Pork Checkoff
Colombia Remains Hot U.S. Market