U.S. pork exports to the Dominican Republic reached new heights last year and haven’t missed a beat in 2023. January exports climbed 28% year-over-year to more than 8,000 metric tons, while export value jumped 67% to nearly $24 million. Lucia Ruano, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) regional representative for Central America and the Dominican Republic, said that consumer education efforts- funded by the USDA Market Access Program and the National Pork Board- have helped bolster demand for U.S. pork.
“The Dominican Republic is our major market at this moment in the region, and for us, education is key,” Ruano said. “We are trying to teach everyone that pork is for the center of the plate- that it’s not only an ingredient to make processed products. People are starting to enjoy the versatility of the products. Now they have the availability of these products, not only in supermarket, but also in these meat boutiques- little stores that have premium cuts. They also have side dishes- the charcoal, the wine, the beer- and it’s very easy for them to step in the store and make a meal.”
Ruano said a robust rebound in tourism has also provided a tailwind for pork demand.
“Before the pandemic they were working on this plan for getting 10 million tourists in a year,” Ruano said. “In 2019, they had around 7.4 million, and then came the pandemic. They started doing a very good job last year in promoting local and international tourists, and they closed 2022 with 8.4 million tourists during the year.”
Ruano added that the increased pork demand comes at a time where the Dominican Republic is still struggling with the impact of African swine fever.
“It’s going to be difficult to eradicate African swine fever over there because they have around 400 producers that have biosecurity standards, but there are around 20,000 producers that raise backyard pigs, so it’s still affecting them,” Ruano said. “Their production has declined for more than 30%, and it is expected that their production keeps decreasing in 2023.”
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