IARN — Several factors have created challenges for US red meat exports to Colombia in 2020.
In 2012, Colombia emerged as a leading importer of US pork and a promising market for US beef as a result of the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Shipments of US pork to Colombia last year alone reached nearly 100,000 metric tons valued at $222 million, while beef exports set a new record of 6,724 metric tons valued at $26 million.
2020 has been a different picture, according to Don Mason, US Meat Export Federation representative to Colombia. He says the Colombian market has felt drastic impacts from COVID-19 related restrictions on economic activity, but that was also compounded by a loss in value for the Colombian peso.
“It’s been a challenging year for meat imports into Colombia,” Mason said. “Those meat importers are starting to make some good progress in the last couple months. Even before COVID hit, they started off with exchange rate issues. Closing out 2019 and coming into 2020, the dollar went way up and that started impacting importers’ ability to price product. And then COVID came along. It’s been a long fall for Colombia. They had complete or partial lockdowns from March through September 1st.”
Mason adds restaurants and other foodservice operations were hit very hard by COVID-19 restrictions, but activity is gradually beginning to return.
“Severe impact on foodservice,” he said. “Restaurants were completely shut down for a long stretch in there and then they were able to do walk up and home delivery, that sort of thing. There was an initial serious impact on retail as well, but that situation has improved. Some of the foodservice product has actually been redirected into that retail stream.”
Mason notes that several retail and foodservice operators turned to USMEF for assistance in upgrading their online presence and delivery services, in order to adjust to changing consumer needs during the pandemic.
Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Meat Export Federation