Despite temporary interruptions in U.S. pork production and significant restrictions on the Central American foodservice sector, pork exports to the region still achieved growth in the first half of the year, according to a release from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Exports to mainstay market Honduras jumped 13% year-over-year to more than $34 million, and larger shipments to Nicaragua and El Salvador also helped push regionwide exports 5% higher to $112.3 million.
As explained in the audio below, COVID-19 arrived in Central America in mid-March, largely shutting down the region's restaurants except for home delivery. All countries in the region recently resumed in-restaurant dining, but with social distancing limits in place and ongoing consumer concerns about the virus, most business is still conducted through takeout and delivery. Lucia Ruano, USMEF representative in Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that USMEF promotional programs in the region are focused on expanding the range of U.S. pork meals ordered online and on educating consumers who are preparing more U.S. pork cuts at home. She notes that the hand-on culinary training sessions USMEF has traditionally conducted in Central America are now being conducted as webinars, and have been expanded to include targeted end consumers.
Listen to more in the audio clip below.