U.S. red meat exports posted gains through November 2006 compared to the same time period in 2005. Activities conducted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in international markets help spur U.S. meat purchases while increased access for U.S. beef and continued growth in U.S. pork exports help boost demand.
U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports worldwide increased 9 percent in volume to 1,147,835 metric tons (mt) and 8 percent in value to $2.6 billion. U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports climbed 41 percent in volume to 597,964 mt and 53 percent in value to $1.86 billion.
More than 85 percent of all meat produced worldwide is consumed outside the United States, making the international marketplace a way to sustain prices, which creates a win-win situation for producers, USMEF President and CEO Phil Seng said.
Mexico continues to be the No. 1 volume market for pork at 324,630 mt while Japan is highest in value at $945 million. Last month, USMEF worked with chefs at two prestigious hotels in Japan to demonstrate cooking U.S. pork for holiday season menus. The cooking demonstrations help publicize the positive aspects of U.S. pork and educate consumers on its preparation and versatility.
“Working with highly-regarded chefs on these workshops certainly helped change perceptions of U.S. pork and helped promote its positive image to both hotel chefs and a large consumer audience in Japan,” said Greg Hanes, USMEF Japan director.
Growth areas for pork include Russia as exports shot up 111 percent in volume to 80,594 mt and 129 percent in value to $159.8 million. Hong Kong also had significant gains as volume increased 100 percent to 21,080 mt and 98 percent in value to $35.5 million, while South Korea, where domestic meat prices have skyrocketed, remained steady with a 47 percent increase in volume to 94,772 mt and a 43 percent increase in value to $199.2 million.
USMEF held an in-store-promotion for 10 days in October at a Samsung Tesco store in South Korea featuring U.S. pork cuts of single-ribbed belly, collar butt, skirt meat and false lean. To encourage U.S. pork purchases, USMEF provided samples for customers to taste and recipes for preparation and serving ideas.
It was the first time U.S. chilled pork skirt meat and false lean – a small amount of lean meat located over the blade bone on the portion of the full loin – were offered at the store. Results show sales of these cuts increased 5 percent since the promotion ended. Approximately 665 pounds sold during the promotion period and 700 pounds sold in the 10 days following the promotion.
Mexico is also the top destination for U.S. beef and beef variety meat with volume increasing 33 percent to 339,035 mt and value 35 percent to just over $1 billion. The Middle East continues to post strong gains due to variety meat sales, increasing 185 percent to 79,993 mt and 74 percent to $104.2 million.
A USMEF merchandising campaign held last November in Egypt increased awareness that U.S. beef livers are a high-quality product. Some 80 merchandisers in wholesale and wet markets and 30 restaurants and street vendors participated in the campaign, encouraging Egyptians to try U.S. beef products.
USMEF focused on the most popular wet markets and major wholesalers which purchase beef livers from importers and distribute them to smaller wholesale outlets. Point-of-sale posters and displays along with U.S. beef recipes helped attract customer attention to the U.S. beef product.
Traders offered a complimentary supply of U.S. beef livers to traditional Egyptian restaurants that were hesitant to use U.S. beef livers. This has already led to U.S. beef liver purchases by many of these restaurants.
Sales of U.S. beef livers increased dramatically in the wholesale wet markets during and following the USMEF promotional activities. Customers asked for U.S. beef livers and were fully aware of the difference in taste and quality of U.S. beef compared to competitors.
U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports to the Middle East through November are more than double the 2003 year-end totals of 30,915 mt and $29.9 million.
Exports to Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore continue to increase since the markets reopened to U.S. beef.
The USMEF “We Care” campaign in Japan is rebuilding consumer confidence in U.S. beef by providing tasting samples, information and a positive image. Newspaper and train advertisements last month encouraged consumers to celebrate the holiday season by serving U.S. beef. The ads included the message, “Tender care of the thoughts of everyone around the table. That, above all else, is what American Beef is all about.”
The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, lamb, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.