A project funded by the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) is helping to encourage Mexican meat processors to diversify their ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat meal offerings to include more U.S. poultry as a main ingredient.
ISA – the state soy checkoff program in Indiana – is working with the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) to promote expanded use of poultry in Mexican-style convenience foods produced by the country’s thriving meat-processing industry.
Mexico is the leading export market for U.S. chicken and turkey, and most processors have been using the imported poultry meat to manufacture such products as sausages, hams and deli meats. The ISA/USAPEEC project seeks to change that mindset.
“Many processors in Mexico are accustomed to doing things a certain way and simply don’t realize how versatile poultry can be in making a variety of products,” says Jennifer Geck, USAPEEC’s manager of allied industry relations.
A non-profit trade association whose mission is to promote U.S. poultry and egg exports around the world, USAPEEC, through its two Mexico offices, is working hand-in-glove with ISA and other QSSBs from Ohio and Kansas on a multi-phase project to teach processors how to diversify their product lines and to create new convenience items that appeal to the Mexican palate.
Through a series of technical seminars, recipe and packaging development, and one-on-one seminars which began in 2011, the project has led to the development of 12 new poultry products, eight of which have been marketed by 10 Mexican companies. As a result, consumer demand for these new products has spiked, particularly since they are perceived as healthful alternatives to other pork or beef-based products.
This year, ISA funding has helped USAPEEC to host three recipe contests at leading culinary schools in Mexico and one seminar with a leading meat science university. Two more culinary contests will take place by the end of the fiscal year. Jointly coordinated with the Mexican Association of Poultry Producers, the program seeks to develop recipes with ground chicken meat, chicken leg quarters, and chicken breasts.
So far this year, 112 culinary and meat science students have taken part in the contests and have developed 45 new recipes that could be used for breakfast or lunch in ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat meals.
“By developing new products and teaching leading processors how to incorporate the products into their production, there will be more U.S. poultry imports into Mexico,” says USAPEEC Mexico Director José Luis Cruz. “USAPEEC estimates the volume will rise by 8,000 to 10,000 metric tons annually.”
“Building demand for poultry, as well as meat and dairy products, in countries like Mexico has tremendous benefit to Indiana soybean farmers,” says Tom Griffiths, ISA director and farmer from Kendallville, Ind. “Indiana is a major producer of poultry and eggs which means many of our soybeans go to feed this industry and anything we can do to increase consumption of poultry and eggs is a win for Indiana poultry, egg and soybean farmers.”
As the largest user of U.S. soybean meal, the U.S. poultry and egg industry consumes more than 1 billion bushels of soybeans, equivalent to more than the entire annual production of Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota combined. As a leading producer of U.S. poultry and eggs, Indiana’s poultry industry uses about 25 percent of the state’s soybean crop, or 56 million bushels.
As U.S. poultry and egg exports increase, there is a greater need for more poultry and egg production, resulting in more soybean meal needed for feed. Last year alone, U.S. poultry and egg exports accounted for 158 million soybean bushel-equivalents, of which 6.8 million bushels were exported directly from Indiana.
“We in the soy industry are fortunate to have USAPEEC working with the meat industry to promote U.S. value added poultry in Mexico,” says Indiana soybean farmer and United Soybean Board Director Jim Schriver, Bluffton, Ind. “These are soybeans that are sold as a value added product which help our whole economic communities.”
A member of USAPEEC since 2003, ISA has also assisted USAPEEC’s past efforts in a research study to determine a market for shelf-stable U.S. egg products to the Philippines.
“USAPEEC appreciates the support of ISA and looks forward to continued success in building demand for U.S. poultry exports,” Geck says.