The 3-webinar series organized by the sectorial brand ChilePork and the support of ProChile aimed at keeping contact with trading partners in Japan and South Korea, by offering them tools to facilitate future decision-making in the context of an ASF and post Covid scenario.

Given the global emergency, this year the usual ChilePork campaign in Asian countries took the form of a webinar series with presentations from renowned international experts translated into three languages: Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. On the morning of October 15th (in Asia), the renowned researcher and professor, José Manuel Sánchez Vizcaíno, JMSV, provided an outlook of the African swine fever (ASF) situation worldwide and highlighted the importance of biosecurity as the best tool for the global pork industry, congratulating the countries that meet high standards. On October 22nd, it was the turn of the President of Global AgriTrends and renowned global meat trade analyst, Brett Stuart, BS, who talked about the future of this protein sales in light of ASF and Covid-19. By providing an economic, political, and social viewpoint, he showed how important Chinese meat imports are for the economy of every continent. On the 29th, the series wrapped up with a presentation from Ken Hughes, KH, recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on cyber-consumer and buyer behavior, who revealed what consumers value most in this post-Covid new normal, and how to meet their demands today.

On October 15th, ChilePork’s webinar series began with a presentation from Juan Carlos Domínguez, President of ChileCarne, the Chilean Meat Exporters’ Association, who highlighted that since its beginnings, the Chilean pork industry has focused on reaching the most demanding global markets with their products, which is why the industry was “Born to Export,” and follows high standards of health, safety, and biosecurity.

“I am optimistic, and I think that we will have a vaccine in two or three years,” JMSV

José Manuel Sánchez Vizcaíno began his conference by providing an outlook of the ASF situation worldwide. He reported that more than 8 million hogs have died around the world, 82% of those in Asia. This is partly due to the high risk factors found in Asian countries.

The professor insisted on the importance of biosecurity as the best tool the global pork industry has to fight this disease, while highlighting the high level of the Chilean pork industry, which constitutes a strength to prevent the entry of diseases and ensure food safety, as well as a competitive advantage as a market that offers quality products with the highest standards of health and safety.

In contrast, Sánchez-Vizcaíno made a clear distinction between the low and high biosecurity measures implemented on different pig farms around the world. He stressed the need to keep working on the oversight of prevention programs. The expert went on to say, “I have visited many places around the world, both farms and plants, and I can say that countries like Chile have fantastic control measures in place, on farms and the industry in general.  My congratulations to the Chilean companies, and I encourage you to keep it up.”

Sánchez-Vizcaíno also mentioned that since 2016 there has been a clear increase in pork production worldwide. Imports have also grown, with China holding the highest import rates and being the main destination for global pork exports. He pointed out that, “I think China’s objective is to keep covering its demand through imports.  They do not want to add any more risks to the ones they already have. They will keep buying from ASF-free countries.”

The European Union, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Chile, in that order, are the leading countries in global exports of this protein, hence the importance of keeping them ASF-free.  Sánchez-Vizcaíno analyzed how long the disease could persist, considering different scenarios. He offered a diagnosis and a forecast, stating that ASF will continue to spread through Europe and Asia, and that it might make the leap to the Americas.

Regarding a vaccine, he compared an ineffective one to a good-quality one, noting that three potential vaccines are currently being developed. Another interesting issue he covered, which he described as the main hurdle, is the inability of countries and industries to “change cultural traditions; that is the greatest challenge,” he said.

In late 2019, the European Union approved a project called VACDIVA (a vaccine that differentiates between infected and vaccinated animals) led by Sánchez-Vizcaíno with an investment of 10 million euros. The project, made up of a consortium of 20 countries, aims at developing a completely safe vaccine, DIVA (which distinguishes infected and vaccinated animals) and building a vaccination program for various epidemiological scenarios. They were given four years to develop a vaccine and they already have three promising prototypes.

With regards to Covid-19, he encouraged the industry to keep preventing infections among workers, and to strengthen biosecurity on farms and the industry in general. “South American countries like Chile, which have maintained controls and barriers, have good chances. I encourage you to keep it up, to keep doubling down on efforts to implement all necessary measures,” he said.

“China will have bought two million tons of pork in 2020,” BS

The second webinar took place on Thursday, October 22nd in Asia, and it was given by the President of Global AgriTrends, researcher and analyst on global meat trade, who talked about the future of meat sales worldwide in light of the ASF and the post-COVID-19 era. Brett Stuart analyzed numerous countries from an economic, political, and social viewpoint, also illustrating the importance of Chinese pork imports in the global economy and how the Asian country’s needs and decisions -within this ASF and Covid scenario- impact the economy of every continent.

Stuart started by saying that China has reshaped the global pork export scenario due to ASF, and he argued that because of the virus resistance and the structure of the pork sector in the Asian country, 50% of its hog population had been lost, basically driving hyperinflation in the sector.  As rescue measures, the Chinese pork industry promoted a plan to fight the disease at plants and farms that was based on ensuring strict biosecurity measures at the entrance and exit levels. On the other hand, this hyperinflation stimulated the construction of new projects by eight large companies in various Chinese cities. “It will take China years to get back to where it was. They really need a vaccine,” the co-creator of Global AgriTrends said bluntly. Stuart explained that ASF is still a prevalent disease in the Asian giant, and that possibly not all of the more than 40 million pig farms in China are bio-secure.

“Hyperinflation has not caused social tension or instability but it is enriching large farmers and fueling expansion,” he said. “By only allowing ‘a few’ imports, they are trying to prevent inflation of pork prices abroad. However, the demand of the Chinese population is so high that their imports continue to rise,” stated the expert. He went on to say that global meat and protein producers are likely to experience an abrupt adjustment, and that the global pork sector will shrink due to China’s expansion aimed at reinvigorating its economy. “So, what if I’m wrong?,” Brett Stuart asked. “Still, China will have bought an additional 2 million tons of pork in 2020,” he stated.

Between January 2019 and August 2020, Chinese pork imports from Spain, Germany, the US, Brazil, Canada, and Denmark, among other countries, tripled in most cases. Spain, for example, went from 30,000 metric tons in January 2019 to 90,000 in August 2020. Chile is positioned as the eighth pork exporter worldwide (with 2% of total exports of this protein), after the US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Since September 2020, Germany has been out of the exporting market. Brett Stuart also talked about the ASF situation in Germany, saying that the country is temporarily out of the global market because the disease entered its borders (70 cases). “If the virus continues to spread throughout the European Union and cannot be properly controlled, it will become a major issue that will change the scenario,” he said.

In the final section of his presentation, Stuart revealed potential risks for the pork market, and provided some figures on the limits to slaughter plants authorized to export to China after the Covid-19 outbreak. Regarding change factors for 2021, the expert said that everything matters: China’s prices, the limit on exports to China from some plants, and the China/US trade war. He noted that these are the three “global protein drivers.” What about the slowdown, will it be temporary? He left the question open. Will there be another US stimulus for this market? Probably before the presidential election, he said. Yet, the world still needs a lot of pork, and countries with good biosecurity standards are there to respond.

KH’s seven keys to meet the high demands of today’s customer

 The third and final webinar was held on Thursday, October 29th at 10:00 am in Asia. Ken Hughes, regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities in consumer and online buyer behavior, provided valuable and relevant information in his talk called: “How do we sell and eat in the so-called ‘new normal’”. Hughes, advisor to major international brands and TED speaker, kept the audience engaged in his message during a 50-minute presentation thanks to a dynamic talk, explanatory videos, and forecasts for the future market. He began his presentation by presenting the idea that: “We are going through a time of change that is very exciting for consumers. Even though it has been a difficult year, the opportunities to come together and create something during the pandemic have been enormous.”

He explained that the B2B and B2C world markets and their various industries have never been more influenced by the values of the current consumer and the enormous changes we are witnessing. “Today, those who stand still, go backwards,” he said. “Because the various forces pushing back are too strong. It is time to open our eyes and be the agents of our own change,” he said. In order to do so, connections and human relations are key. How each brand connects with its consumers as well as understanding technology as a tool, because in our essence, the human aspect will always prevail.

Then, he gave an outlook of the 6 generations that must be satisfied and that define current marketing: traditional over 80, baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and now the Alpha generation. “It is not easy to satisfy them all in one business, but it is possible!,” he encouraged.

The 7 keys to satisfying customers today

Through appealing images and specific examples, Ken Hughes explained the 7 keys or values that keep customers loyal and happy today.

Instantaneity

Today’s consumer expects all interactions to be instantaneous. “Now is good, but even before I know what I need is better,” he said. The key is to be predictive, to anticipate. A good example is the one from Amazon Instant in the United States: “They offer delivering the products that college students use the most in their lockers 4 minutes after ordering them,” he said.

Flexibility

Hughes talked about the changes in the rules of the game, and how today they make consumers what he calls: “the blue dot consumer,” because of the blue dot that shows people’s locations on online maps. He explained that a few decades ago -when people used real maps- the map was the center and the person was located in that city. “Today, people are the center of the map. They are the blue dot and the map moves around the user,” he explained. The clearest example of this new paradigm is Uber, as he pointed out, where the car goes to the user. Or Booster, an app available in some countries, where a fuel truck comes to the user, fills the tank, and leaves.

“Ask yourselves: do you put the customer at the center of your business? Are they the blue dot?

Expectations

“The experience must meet or exceed expectations,” he said. Today, the customer knows they are in the center, and modern brands treat them so and therefore, “their expectations must be met, and in the best way possible,” he declared.

Keep it personal

“We are working with Generation Me,” he said. Selfies rule the world and brands want to treat people in the most personalized way possible. After users live experiences like that, they do not take anything else, it does not satisfy them. This is why “transactional commerce has to become personal, and you must treat all your customers as if they were the only one,” he said.

Authenticity

Hughes noted that there is a competition to be authentic. He quoted the novelist Terry Pratchett, who said: “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” That is why he stressed that today, the culture of each company, the brand storytelling is vital. “Find a new way to make a difference, to be genuine and authentic, to go beyond the commodity market. What have you done to get customers tell the story of your brand?,” he left that question open.

Experience

“You don’t need a drill; you need a hole. So, what do you sell? You don’t sell Coca-Cola, you sell happiness. Ask yourselves what you sell,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of keeping in mind that a few decades ago people use to value themselves for what they owned (clothes, cars, possessions). Today, they are valued for the experiences they live. If these experiences are shared with others, then they have value. For example: going to a gym vs. running a Color Run. “Are you providing your customer with a shareable experience?,” he asked the audience.

Emotional engagement

Hughes explained how to form relationships with customers, by offering empathy, and most importantly, compassion. This means doing something as a brand to solve their problems. “All the emotions you feel in a relationship, you want to feel when relating with brands: admiration, humor, affection, emotion,” he said. Finally, he talked about the opportunity today’s uncertainty presents: “More than ever, customers are waiting for you to connect with them and offer them a solution, because this year uncertainty and fear have taken over. See them in their most human side and imagine how to reach them,” he said. Hughes thanked the presence of people from different parts of the world and invited them all to visit his website at www.kenhughes.info/blog.