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Iberian Ham Promoted in US

20 December 2012

SPAIN & US - Seeking new markets for Iberian serrano ham, there has been a marketing campaign in several US cities to boost awareness of the delicacy.

Currently Fermin, with 5J and Cooperativa Agroalimentaria del Valle de los Pedroches (Agrifood Cooperative Pedroches Valley; Covap) are the only three Spanish companies that export the ham to the US, reports Besana.

Iberian ham is being directed from Spanish pasture to the dishes of American consumers through a campaign to raise awareness of this tasty product and promote its export market.

"The ham is unique, incomparable for its taste, texture, the way it melts in your mouth. But the US market is cornered with hams competitors from other countries such as Italy, and we must prepare the ground," explained Raul Martin, spokesman for Fermin USA, one of the three Spanish companies importing the product in this country.

Mr Martin recently demonstrated at the Instituto Cervantes in New York how to cut a leg of ham to an audience, revealing the secrets of this delicacy, from pig habitat in the pastures of Andalusia, Extremadura and Salamanca in its sole feeding on acorns, through its long curing process.

"The product tastes better when you know its history. Our asset is that the US understands why ham is so special, why have those nuances, aromas and flavour," Mr Martin explained. His company has been exporting this ham since 2008, a period in which, in his opinion, "there has been significant progress".

"In recent years, we have seen that people have begun to call serrano ham by name, and not 'prosciutto' but we cannot settle for that, because this is a very large market with many opportunities, and should be exploited in many promotional activities," Mr Martin told Besana.

Currently Fermin, with 5J and Agrifood Cooperative Pedroches Valley (Covap) are the only three Spanish companies that export these hams to the US, which, according to Mr Martin, is "the future of the food industry in Spain".

"We have to make it known, because if we are not able to sell everything we produce within Spain," he said, adding that both the demand in Spain as prices and purchasing power have fallen.

"We cannot continue selling below cost price, so we have to look for markets where they are willing to pay what the product is worth, and the United States is undoubtedly the world's number one market," said Mr Martin, adding that restaurants and gourmet shops are increasingly offering Iberian ham.

Besana reports that the Minister of Economy of Spain in New York, Ángel Martín Acebes, noted that the aim of the campaign, which started in Chicago and, after passing through the Big Apple continued in Miami, is for this particular "caviar" to come "to every corner of America".

He stressed the need to promote the product in cookery schools, "because if students know the ham, they become your best ambassadors, and if a company succeeds in America, is has worldwide impact."

"Enduring medium to long term" requires the news to be spread of this delicacy, he said.

Mr Acebes Martin acknowledged to Besana that the Iberian ham "will always be an elite product" but he stressed that "the American market is changing gradually and there is huge interest in trying new things" - a challenge in which "Spanish cuisine is enjoying great success."

TheMeatSite News Desk

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