Recognizing a trend of increased dining out among Russian citizens, the U.S. Meat Export Federation in cooperation with retail supplier Grand Foods in November conducted a month-long festival promoting U.S. pork at restaurants in three five-star hotels and at six other top restaurants in St. Petersburg, Russia, USMEF said.

Educational seminars for restaurant chefs and wait staff and an advertising campaign to inform consumers about the U.S. pork promotion supported the festival, USMEF said.

USMEF said its support of the festival resulted in all restaurants keeping U.S. pork dishes on their menus after the promotion. It also resulted in a sales increase of seven times during the promotion and three times following it compared to pre-promotion levels, USMEF said.

USMEF said it surveyed consumers on their thoughts about U.S. pork and that the information will be used for market research and follow-up.

The promotion, funded by the U.S. pork-checkoff program and USDA's Market Access Program, included introducing chefs to new dishes made with U.S. pork.

USMEF said U.S. pork exports to Russia in the first 11 months of 2004 were up 305 percent in volume at 20,933 metric tons, compared to 5,172 tons in the same period of the previous year. For November, the latest month for which figures are available, export volume increased almost 10 times at 7,378 tons compared to the previous year's 751 tons. These figures exclude variety meats since the promotion featured U.S. pork chops and loin cuts.

Source: Association Release