Now in its third year, the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) Latin American Showcase has quickly blossomed into an extremely productive and successful event for exporters of U.S. beef, pork and lamb. This year’s showcase is set for July 10-11 in Antigua, Guatemala, with 33 U.S. meat companies scheduled to exhibit products.
But as Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF director of trade development for Central America and the Dominican Republic explains, this event is far more than just a trade show. Over these two days, representatives from U.S. companies will have opportunities for detailed, one-on-one business meetings with 50 buyers from 10 different Latin American markets: Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Peru.
Rodriguez adds that interest in the showcase continues to grow from both buyers and exporters. Word spread quickly throughout the industry about the success of the 2011 event held in Panama City, and the following year in Bogota, Colombia. Exhibition space for this year’s event has nearly doubled from 2012.
From 2009 to 2012, U.S. beef exports to the Central and South America region soared from $25 million to $134 million. Pork exports increased from $100 million to $228 million during the same period. Tariffs and other trade barriers have been greatly reduced over the past few years, allowing the U.S. meat industry to better serve this region’s growing middle class and its rapidly expanding retail and foodservice sectors. The Latin American Showcase allows USMEF member companies to more fully capitalize on these opportunities, and for U.S. livestock producers to realize the benefits of these growing markets.