USMEF promotes beef, lamb around the world at food shows, trade eventWritten by Saige Albert
Gulfood 2016 drew over 90,000 people from around the world from Feb. 21-25 in Dubai to celebrate the unique foods offered by exporters from around the world. As one of the world’s largest food exhibitions, the event brings exporters together with key buyers from growing regions around the world.
John Brook, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East, says, “Gulfood has really become a very, very important show. It is the regional show for all of the Middle East, drawing in people from all over Africa and Asia, as well, and there’s no doubt that Gulfood is a hub. It’s a meeting point for a very wide region.”
Brook adds that the event drew more U.S. companies than ever before in 2016, and he sees that the regions represented at the show are important for U.S. producers.
U.S. beef piqued the interest of many from around the world, but Brook also notes the buyers showed strong interest in U.S. lamb.
“USMEF has been working with chefs and other foodservice professionals in the region to bolster demand for U.S. lamb,” adds Ralph Loos of USMEF.
Another important market for U.S. beef, USMEF notes that Indonesia has begun to relax their import restrictions on U.S. beef.
USMEF explains that the country was once a top 10 volume market for beef exports, but inconsistent access in recent years has occurred in response to government efforts to bolster self-sufficiency in beef production.
Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, says, “Following publicity last year about a government-wide effort to streamline red tape and regulations, the Indonesian minister of agriculture published these new import regulations that made more cuts eligible for importation and allowed importers to apply to import as much beef as they want. More cuts are eligible from the U.S., including export staples such as short plates and short ribs.”
He also predicted higher U.S. volumes for 2016.
“The U.S. probably has the best opportunity in years to supply Indonesia because Australia’s live cattle export supply will be constrained by where that country is at in terms of its own cattle cycle and the consequent high beef import prices from Australia,” Haggard adds.
However, he emphasizes caution for the market as a result of challenges in the marketplace.
Haggard explains that the country requires purchasers to buy a certain quantity of domestic beef and prove it by showing receipts before they are able to apply for an import license.
“It’s quite restrictive, and it lengthens planning time for imports, obviously,” he adds. “These and other restrictions are really the reason why the U.S., joined by New Zealand, filed a trade complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Indonesia’s beef import regime.”
While the outcome of the case is important, Haggard also notes that USMEF is focusing on capturing the market share that they can in the meantime.
USMEF reported on Jan. 7 that exports of U.S. beef and pork were above last year, though only modestly. At the same time, export value slipped.
“Beef exports increased three percent from a year ago to 82,301 metric tons, but value was down 13 percent to $438.1 million,” they said. “Exports to most Asian markets, which were impacted early last year by the West Coast port labor impasse, increased in January, but these gains were largely offset by lower volumes shipped to Western Hemisphere markets and the Middle East.”
Exports in January only accounted for 12 percent of total beef production and nine percent for muscle cuts, which was steady from 2015. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $239.88, down 11 percent from a year ago.
Beef exports to Japan were the largest in six months at 16,762 metric tons, up 21 percent from a year ago, while export value edged two percent higher to $93.2 million. Exports to South Korea and Taiwan increased by 59 and 25 percent in volume and 17 and three percent in value, respectively.
Led by a strong month in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, exports to the region increased 71 percent in volume and nine percent in value, said USMEF.
Exports to Hong Kong were up 19 percent, although value declined by 16 percent.
“Although it is encouraging to see beef exports to the Asian markets performing above year-ago levels, these results are a reminder of how disruptive the West Coast situation was for our industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “While we still face a tariff gap in Japan compared to Australian beef, Australia’s recent slowdown in production presents an opportunity to reclaim market share – an opportunity the U.S. industry is pursuing very aggressively. U.S. beef is also capitalizing on the tight domestic supplies in Korea, making strides in both the retail and foodservice sectors.”