International U.S. Beef Market Highlights
U.S. beef exports greatly exceeded previous volume and value records in 2021, surpassing $10 billion for the first time, according to year-end data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Part of U.S. beef’s export success in 2021 can be attributed to growth in beef variety meat exports. Beef Checkoff dollars supported this growth, helping USMEF further promote value cuts and variety meats to end-user customers and consumers. Below are a few examples of USMEF’s work in international markets.
Alternative Cut Training in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — USMEF Mexico Executive Chef German Navarrete traveled to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to host master classes on U.S. beef preparation for restaurateurs, distributors and social media influencers. To demonstrate how the appeal of U.S. beef extends beyond middle meats, Navarrete promoted the nutrition, versatility and affordability of top blade, hangar steak and flank steak for use in ethnic cuisines.
Differentiating U.S. Beef in Colombian Butcher Shops — Audits are the first step in a new training program intended to help importers’ butcher shops sell more high-quality U.S. beef. A primary sales channel for imported beef is through importer-owned butcher shops, which USMEF has targeted for technical and marketing support. “Our market assessments show a wide disparity in how meat is handled, merchandised and sold at retail, especially in butcher shops,” says Don Mason, USMEF representative in Colombia. Training programs developed for butcher shops will improve food safety, product management and merchandising to increase U.S. beef sales.
Social Media Raises U.S. Beef Visibility in Hong Kong — With the surge in retail and online meat purchases in Hong Kong in mind, USMEF partnered with imported meat wholesaler and key opinion leader Meat Dee to raise the U.S. beef’s visibility, promote sales of a wider range of cuts to end users and provide foodservice partners with promotional support. “The pandemic accelerated demand for high-quality protein and online content about food, meat handling and preparation,” says Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. “In providing this educational content to the trade through Meat Dee, sales of a wider range of U.S. beef cuts have been realized in both foodservice and retail channels.”
Workshops Promote Toy Donations and U.S. Beef Recipes in Mexico — In December, USMEF utilized its mobile grill and kitchen to introduce seasonal U.S. beef recipes and collect donated toys for vulnerable families in Mexico. The recipe and donation workshops were carried out with social media influencers, local media outlets and charitable organizations in Queretaro, Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Beijing Chefs Learn New Cuts and Applications — USMEF partnered with an importer/distributor in Northern China to introduce U.S. beef cuts and new cooking concepts from Southern China to its foodservice customers. Cuts that are excellent for grilling in yakiniku and Korean barbecue restaurants – flank, tri-tip, bone-in short ribs and rib finger – were demonstrated and prepared for sampling and a new concept dinner. “We are always working to expand the range of U.S. cuts. The event served as a brainstorming session for menu development, and the 40 chefs and restaurant owners expressed strong interest in the new cuts and new ideas,” said Ming Liang, USMEF marketing director in China.
U.S. Beef Variety Meat Exports Set New Monthly Value Record — A notable bright spot in 2021 has been the rebound in beef variety meat exports, with broad-based demand in a wider range of destinations. USMEF has introduced global consumers to local, ethnic dishes featuring U.S. beef variety meat items through promotions such as “Taco Tuesdays” in Mexico. U.S. beef variety meat exports set a new monthly value record in November at $116 million and topped $1 billion for the first time in 2021. Mexico is the top volume destination and Japan leads in value.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.