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U.S. Pork Sizzles at Fine Food Australia

Published: Sep 28, 2011
Australia’s largest food and hospitality event provided an outstanding venue for showcasing U.S. pork in this rapidly growing market. Fine Food Australia 2011 was held earlier this month at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, attracting more than 20,000 visitors over four days and featuring nearly 1,000 exhibitors from 36 countries. USMEF’s participation was made possible through support from the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

A wide variety of U.S. pork products were on display, with grilled samples of pre-cooked bacon proving to be a major draw to the USMEF booth.

“It is truly hard to find ‘streaky’ belly bacon in Australia, so this was a very popular item with our visitors,” said USMEF-ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin. “Middle bacon made from the area where the loin joins the belly is the most common variety in Australia. It is thicker, leaner and saltier. It has a strong flavor and there is no way of crisping it when cooked. American bacon, being smoked and thinly sliced with nice layers of meat and fat, crisps up while cooking. This gives it an unmistakable smoky flavor and aroma that proved very appealing to our guests.”

Yin was pleased with the number of inquiries USMEF received for U.S. bacon, as well as other processed pork products. Prospective buyers ranged from major retailers and processors to small café operators and caterers interested in using U.S. bacon to complement burgers and sandwiches.

Australia’s import regulations subject U.S. pork to a cooking requirement upon arrival, so fresh or frozen U.S. pork cannot be sold in the retail or foodservice sectors. But despite these considerable restrictions, U.S. pork has achieved remarkable growth in Australia. As recently as 2004, pork exports to Australia totaled less than 3,500 metric tons (about 7.7 million pounds) valued at about $10 million. But through July of this year, exports to Australia have already reached 42,103 metric tons (92.8 million pounds) valued at more than $135 million – which is just $13 million short of the full-year value record set in the 2010. Exports should exceed $200 million by year’s end, with the U.S. surpassing Denmark as Australia’s leading pork supplier.

During the exhibition, USMEF staff also arranged a meeting with U.S. Agricultural Attaché Joseph Carroll, providing him with an overview of pork marketing activities and trade issues faced by the U.S. pork and beef industries in Australia and the surrounding region.

Fine Food Australia is an annual exhibition that alternates between Sydney and Melbourne. Next year’s event will be held Sept. 10-13 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.