Update: Global beef export markets
In the beef industry, a greater emphasis has been placed on foreign marketing, made possible through added boosts from the beef checkoff program – the goal being to develop, maintain and increase worldwide acceptance and sales of U.S. beef and beef products. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), this means focusing on efforts to expand market penetration, gain new market access, address global consumer issues and build trust in the image of the U.S. beef industry across the world.
Each year, the USMEF hosts the Strategic Planning Conference to discuss the latest issues affecting U.S. beef and pork exports and global meat trade. The 2010 event was held Nov. 3-5 in Dallas, TX, and a conference call during the event invited meat industry enthusiasts to learn more about meat exports, even if they couldn’t attend the meeting. Joe Schuele, director of communications for USMEF, led the conversation, with senior officers and regional directors adding their input as well. Their conclusions were optimistic about the future for U.S. beef trade around the world.
“It’s been a positive year so far,” said John Brooke, regional director for USMEF in Europe. “Looking at Russia, we have had some considerable challenges with access. This country needs more beef. They don’t have the same self-sufficiency policy for beef like they do with chicken and pork. Demand for beef in Russia is booming, the economy is doing well, and we expect next year to be able to carry on in the same perspective.”
Brooke said they anticipate filling the quotas made in Russia for U.S. beef, and he is excited about the market in that country. Switching gears to look at the Middle East, he noted that despite the barriers, there have been huge developments in this region.
“The Middle East has been somewhat of a surprise,” admitted Brooke. “Of course, there have been some barriers for us to tackle. The desire to consume beef in the Middle East is growing, and there is a new wave in the commodity market. We have seen extraordinary developments in Western dining options like family-style restaurants and fast food chains. This is changing the way people are eating and what items they choose to buy. The growth here has been quite remarkable. We have had more funding from the beef checkoff program, and that has helped us move products here.”
Looking at the European Union (EU), the opening of a duty-free quota has helped the U.S. beef trade.
“Shipments are still very small to the EU, but we are gaining visibility there,” explained Brooke. “In the beginning of this year, there was the Euro crisis and a devaluation of the U.S. dollar, which kind of depleted the value of the duty-free quota. Fortunately, this didn’t hurt U.S. beef trade, and I’m feeling very positive about the markets in this region.”
Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Central America, added his two cents on the foreign markets he has worked with.
“Mexico is the largest foreign market for U.S. beef,” said Russell. “Mexico is starting to recover from the 2008 recession, just like we are. During the recession, the peso devalued significantly, but it’s starting to strengthen again. However, the major trend in Mexico has been a shift in beef to less expensive proteins, particularly pork, where pork exports increased 27 percent. Now we are seeing an increase in poultry imports as well.”
He added that there have also been great opportunities to grow the market in both the Dominican Republic and Central America. The group also talked about the Korean and Japan markets, with Schuele directing the conversation.
“We are hoping our upcoming trip to Korea and Japan will be successful,” said Schuele. “For U.S. beef, this could be one of the leading markets. There have been very positive developments in both Japan and Korea. We are very excited to have USDA Secretary Vilsack visit Japan and discuss market access. Looking around the globe, the markets for U.S. beef have been up 25 percent and in some places, up to 50 percent. We still have a way to go in the Japanese market, but the market should begin to grow there.”
The discussion continued and all agreed that Taiwan is performing very well, with U.S. beef middle meats, including bone-in cuts, gaining in popularity. To conclude, the group said that the export market will have the biggest impact in increasing profitability for America’s ranchers.
“The more we channel our resources in the global market place where we have bigger premiums, the sooner we will start seeing increased profitability for our beef producers at home.”
editor’s note: to follow updates by the usmef on global meat trade, visit http://usmef.org/.
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