- Animals: swine
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: cooperatives, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, value added
- Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships
Pork producers in Puerto Rico are faced with increasing environment regulations that they are having problems meeting under existing technologies and strategies. At the same time they are competing against increasing pork imports from the US and abroad. This project seeks to integrate these concerns of environmental and marketing to produce sustainable strategies for the future of this industry on the island.
The marketing survey portion of this study has identified strategic opportunities for these farmers with the local Lechon restaurants. It will necessitate the farmers moving to a centralized finishing and kill facility to address these opportunities.
In recent years pork production has been disappearing from Puerto Rico due to cheap imports from the multi national producers. The pork producers in Puerto Rico are interested to exploit the potential opportunity of selling directly to the lechon (roast suckling pig) restaurants. A market survey has been completed by the pork producers cooperating with the University of Puerto Rico which surveyed 30 restaurants. The data has been collected, but still needs additional statistical analysis and translation. This study has shown that these restaurants commonly need smaller pigs than those imported, would prefer a fresh pig that they do not need to thaw, and they require delivery. The restaurant owners frequently stated that they are willing to pay more for this product and services. This combination of requirements would lend itself well to a branded product.
This project would also address food safety and quality issues from the lechon restaurants serving from the same pig for multiple days and problems with properly thawing the pig which are typically hung outside. The lechon restaurants are a common “cottage industry” in Puerto Rico and are typically an extension of the home. There are an estimated 400 lechon restaurants on the island.
For the farmers to be able to do this they need a farmer-owned slaughter (and possibly processing) facility and refrigerated delivery trucks. The producer group has many questions about the feasibility of this venture, how to set up, and how to operate a farmer-owned processing business. The farmers are also interested in exploring new pork products such as southern style “pulled pork” which is not known on the island and would have market potential with the thousands of outdoor lunch stands.
For this grant application they are proposing to visit Mountain Grove Pork Processing in Missouri, one of only two such farmer owned facilities in the US. Mountain Grove produces a full line of cut pork, pulled pork, sausage, smoked meats, etc. The Puerto Rican farmers have established contact with the owners and Missouri Extension Service to host their visit. The grant also proposes to hire a consultant to do a preliminary feasibility study for the Puerto Rican farmers. Relevant educational equipment is included in the grant for outreach activities.
The project will be sponsored by the Municipality (similar to a county) of Jayuya and the Pork Producers Nucleus (similar to a cooperative under PU law) with technical support from El Atlantico Resource Conservation & Development. Project participants will be Rebecca Perez, Agricultural Coordinator for the Municipality of Jayuya. Farmer cooperators are Jose A. Sosa and Orlando Medina, both are officers of the local Pork Producers Nucleus.
Finish the marketing survey. All data has been collected from on site interviews. Additional statistical and translation work remains to be done.
Visit the farmer owned processing facility in Missouri and obtain information about pertinent experiences, financing, management, and legal structure. Farmers will visit southern style BBQ restaurants to identify potential new pork products for the Puerto Rican market.
Have a consultant review the project on site with suggestions with how to proceed and prepare a project proposal. The Municipality of Jayuya will furnish lodging and per diem costs. The grant would be used only to pay consultant fees and airfare.
Develop a Power Point presentation on the overall project to share with various groups. It will need to be very professional for presentation to the Puerto Rico Secretary of Agriculture, who could be a source of future funding.
Develop Strategic Plans for the Pork Producers. Both a short range 1 year plan long range 5 year plan will need to be prepared.