FORT DODGE - Building relationships with foreign marketers and establishing trust was the essence of a South Korea trade mission in February attended by Gregg Hora, president of the Webster County Pork Producer's Association and president-elect of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
Hora presented his talk Monday night during the Webster County pork banquet and annual meeting. The organization's other activities during 2016 and plans for 2017 were also outlined.
South Korea, Hora said, is the fifth-largest export market of U.S. pork.
GREGG HORA, president of the Webster County Pork Producers, gave a presentation Monday night on his pork trade mission trip to South Korea during the county’s annual banquet.
Traveling with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, Hora said trade ambassadors met with buyers of frozen American pork and beef products.
One of the main purposes of the trip, Hora said was relationship building.
"Relationships and truth worthiness are very important to them," said Hora. "They want to meet the growers and exporters. They want to know where their food comes from."
On average, South Koreans consume 77 pounds of pork, per person, each year which is significantly higher than Americans at about 50 pounds of pork annually.
During their trip they had promotion opportunities and visited processing plants and the large Incheon Port.
The Incheon Port, Hora said, is one of the largest ports in the world and an integral part of getting U.S.-grown meat into South Korea.
For as many similarities in cuts of pork used in South Korea such as pork shoulder and brats, Hora said there are many cultural food differences.
South Koreans will consume will prepare cuts of pork Americans reject, such as the head and feet.
Those cuts, he said, are typically exported to countries like South Korea, who want them.
"We export to those parts of the world that eat those pieces we don't eat, and that really helps add value to our pork," said Hora.
The trade ambassadors presented the "We Care" initiative to their South Korean hosts. We Care is a joint effort of the Pork Checkoff through the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council that help demonstrate that producers are accountable to established ethical principles and animal well-being practices.
During their trip, Hora said he discovered South Korean pork producers follow many of those same humane treatment principles.
"They have the same care and concern as we do," he said.
Hora said the county organization participated in several activities in 2016 including helping the local 4-H and FFA groups, partnered with the Fort Dodge BBQ Lovers Society for sponsorship and pork coupon award incentives, partnered with the Iowa Pork Producers Association on numerous billboards for advertising as well as numerous other pork promotion events.
The group had several grilling opportunities with some regular showings such as the Webster County Fair, Gowrie Fire Department, Farm News Ag Show, and the Webster County Farm Bureau sweet corn feed.
New in 2016 was an outreach activity at the Community Health Center in Fort Dodge.
"We donated pork burgers and it is nice to be able to help out people that need it," said Hora.
The organization also grilled for the Fort Dodge Police Department's K-9 fundraiser.
The Webster County Pork queens - Tielyr Clabaugh and Micaela Fevold - are an important part of many of the pork producer's activities.
Clabaugh and Fevold shared their experiences stating they both enjoy having the opportunities to get into the public and share their love for pork industry.
Clabaugh was the 2017 recipient of a $400 scholarship from the Webster County Pork Producers. Clabaugh, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High thanked the group and said she plans on extending her agriculture roots into college by majoring in agribusiness.
Representing the Iowa Pork Producers Association at the banquet was Drew Mogler, producer education for the Iowa Pork Producers.
Mogler provided an update on IPPA activities and programs.
Mogler said the association is excited for the growth in pork production happening in Iowa with two new packing plants being built in the state: The Seaboard Triumph plant in Sioux City and the Prestage Foods plant in Wright County.
Mogler said this will bring several more jobs into the pork industry which already features one person among 11 people who are employed because of the pork industry.
"With our transition within our government," Mogler said, "we will keep the lines of communication open to our elected officials," said Mogler.
The IPPA had another successful year at the Iowa State Fair, Mogler said, with 60,000 pork chops on a stick served. This, he said is all due to the efforts brought by the volunteers.
Mogler congratulated the Webster County Pork Producers for being recognized at the IPPA annual meeting for their gain in membership.
"They help us have a stronger state association," said Mogler.
Hora said for 2017 the Webster County Pork Producers will continue with their extensive billboard advertising in addition to other modes to help get their message, "Pork: Be Inspired" out to the public.
Hora said water quality issues will continue to be a large part of the pork producer's work and they will continue to defend the pork industry in any way possible.