USMEF: New Zealand pork buyers positive about US industry
USMEF hosted a group of five pork buyers from New Zealand last week for an up-close view of U.S. production and processing practices.
New Zealand has emerged as a promising market for U.S. pork, with exports setting a record in 2009 of just over 16 million pounds valued at $17.2 million.
The team began its U.S. tour in Iowa when they visited the JBS pork plant in Marshalltown and the Des Moines headquarters of Townsend Engineering, a leading manufacturer of sausage-making equipment. This was followed by a tour of the Pine Ridge Farms pork processing plant in Des Moines and the Grimes headquarters of Midwest Premier Foods.
Pork 101 and pork industry discussion
The group's first stop in Nebraska was a tour of the Farmland pork plant in Crete. Then they completed a three-day “Pork 101” educational seminar at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The course included an overview of U.S. pork production, sessions focused on hog selection, pricing, carcass evaluation and grading, and hands-on exercises in pork cutting and sausage making. The team also met Thursday with Larry Sitzman, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA) and Dr. Donald Levis of the University of Nebraska for a discussion of Nebraska's pork industry and its important role in the state's economy.
Brian Tilbrook is operations manager for Leonard's Superior Smallgoods, a New Zealand-based processor of bacon, ham and sausage products that utilises U.S. pork. Tilbrook came away very impressed not only with the scale of the U.S. industry, but also with the quality of U.S. hogs and the professionalism of everyone he encountered during his visit.
Also participating were Greg Beecroft, a Wellington-based production supervisor; William Curd, operations manager for Auckland-based Hobson's Choice Meat and Bacon Company; Lee Groucott of Rangitikei Meats in Palmerston North; and Garth Wise of Napier-based meat processor Bay Cuisine Limited. The tour was supported in part by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program. The Pork Checkoff is also one of the funding partners behind the Pork 101 seminar.
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