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Audio: Strong Momentum for U.S. Meat in Guatemala

Published: Apr 20, 2015
00:00 / 00:00

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U.S. red meat exports to Guatemala recorded their best year ever in 2014, with both pork exports ($41.1 million) and beef exports ($25 million) setting new value records. The Guatemalan market has continued to perform well this year, with pork exports (through February) running 35 percent ahead of their 2014 pace and beef export value increasing 11 percent.

Gerardo Rodriguez, U.S. Meat Export Federation director of trade development for Central America and the Dominican Republic, explains that pork once had an unfavorable reputation with Guatemalan consumers, so U.S. exports were mostly limited to raw material for further processing. But because of USMEF’s educational and promotional efforts, consumers are now more knowledgeable about the safety and quality of U.S. pork, which has opened many new opportunities in Guatemala’s retail and foodservice sectors.

U.S. beef exports continue to benefit from the gradual tariff rate reductions included in the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). When CAFTA came into force in Guatemala in 2006, tariffs were immediately eliminated for Choice and Prime beef cuts, but not for Select-or-lower cuts. These items were subject to a 15 percent tariff that was to be gradually reduced to zero by 2020 through an annual tariff rate reduction of one percentage point and an expanding duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ). In 2015, the duty-free TRQ for Select-or-lower beef has grown to 1,600 metric tons and the out-of-quota tariff rate has been reduced to just 4 percent. This lowers the cost of Select-grade beef for Guatemalan importers, allowing them to market these cuts to a wider range of customers.


Joe Schuele: In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, we speak with Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF director of trade development for Central America and the Dominican Republic, about the strong momentum for red meat exports to Guatemala. Both pork and beef exports to Guatemala set new value records in 2014, and the market has continued to perform well this year. Rodriguez explains that educational outreach about the safety and quality of U.S. pork has created many new opportunities.

Gerardo Rodriguez: It has been one of the best years in Guatemala in the case of pork. Pork used to be only considered as a raw material for the further processed products. But it’s not anymore like that. Pork, it is a great source of options that we have for the food service and for the retail sector. There is retail chains in the country that are really committed to the product. We are working on the development of value-added pork products, and at the same time we are working with wholesalers in the country in order to develop different channels, as well, that we can consider pork as an alternative, an affordable alternative.

Joe Schuele: Beef exports to Guatemala continue to benefit from the U.S. Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, which first went into place in 2006.

Gerardo Rodriguez: In the case of beef, we are developing new channels, as well. We used to work mainly for the retail sector, but now we also work in the food service. And this year we expect to publish really good numbers, and this is based according to the CAFTA reduction in the tariff that is being paid on the select and lowered rating, so it is a really affordable carry that Guatemalans can pay when buying this great quality, so I believe we will see more and more select product in the country.

Joe Schuele: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.