Seven Iowans are leaving the country today with the mission of increasing pork exports to China. The week long trip to China will include meetings with government officials, importers and food service representatives in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The delegation includes former Iowa Pork Producers Association president John Vossberg of Janesville. He says it’s important to “put a face on American agriculture.” Vossberg says the in-person meetings help build trust.
“That’s what we do. We go over there and show them that they’re important to us and we’re just common people,” Vossberg said. “We’re not just big companies where this meat comes from. We just try to make a connection with them.”
The trip is organized by the Iowa Department of Economic Development. It’s the first IDED organized pork trade mission to China in three years.
Some of the popular pork products in China include stomachs and pigs’ feet, which are less popular in the U.S. Vossberg says that fact can help boost the value of raising hogs in Iowa. “It just makes the whole hog worth a lot more if you can use every bit of it,” Vossberg said. “By working with countries like China – and Mexico too – both of them like different pieces of meat that the average American person wouldn’t eat.”
Last year, Iowa exported $96 million in pork products to China. That’s about 10% of the total pork exports from the state. China banned U.S. pork imports in 2009 in the wake of the H1N1 outbreak. The ban was later lifted, but U.S. exports to China have failed to reach pre-ban levels.