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Costa Rica - Increase in Pork Consumption Encourages Producers' Sector

11 November 2010

Pork consumption is increasing rapidly in Costa Rica, according to Illeana Ramirez in the latest GAIN report from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Report Highlights

The growth in Costa Rica's pork consumption is partly due to producers' work to improve meat quality. However, there is an excellent market niche to export fine cuts such as pork legs during the second semester of the year.

General Information

Increase in pork consumption encourages the pork producers' sector in Costa Rica In 2009, the annual per-capita consumption of pork increased from 8.9kg in 2004 to 11.6kg – 33 per cent more – in Costa Rica. Last year was the best of the last five years although the market faced the influenza A H1N1 (also known as swine influenza).

The Chamber of Swine Producers invested significantly in publicity and the negative effects were curtailed to only one week. Moreover, the campaigns positively affected consumers and a rise in consumption was seen across the country.

The swine producers report that in 2009, in order to meet domestic demand, there were 45,000 pigs slaughtered per month. However, in 2010, this number increased to 55,000 pigs per month.

This growth in the Costa Rica's pork consumption is partly due to producers' work to improve meat quality. Years ago, the value of the animal was quantified by the quantity of fat. Over time, consumer preferences have changed and now consumers expect lean cuts of pork.

Another interesting aspect of the Costa Rican market is that traditionally consumers eat more pork ribs, pork chops and pork roast during the first six months of the year and from July to December, the demand is focused on the pork leg and fine cuts. As a result of the demand for very specific pork cuts, in the last semester of 2010 the Costa Rican pork industry preferred to import the particular cuts and not slaughtering pigs, which helps avoid the need to freeze cuts that are not currently in demand.

Domestic consumption in Costa Rica may be higher but price data is not monitored closely. The price to the producer has kept its value as 1,578 colon (CRC) per kilo (US$3.10/kg) and for the butcher, it is approximately CRC1,720 per kilo ($3.37) but the sales prices could reach up to 150 per cent. An excellent niche market exists in Costa Rica for fine pork cuts, particularly pork legs.

November 2010

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