Colo. – The Greater China region, comprised of Hong Kong, Macau, China and Mongolia, holds growth potential for U.S. beef and beef products. Realizing Hong Kong's potential, checkoff-funded efforts remain strong, driving U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) international activities this fall. In 2006, annual exports reached 3,450 metric tons (mt) valued at $15 million.
“Beef consumption is increasing at a higher rate than other proteins and much of the increase is driven by the relatively more affluent urban population,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF chairman from Greeley, Colo., and General Manager of the International Division for JBS-Swift & Company. “Strong economic growth in Hong Kong has also helped foodservice receipts and boosted demand for high-end beef. U.S. beef producers need to remain competitive in this global market, by leveraging beef checkoff dollars, USMEF continues to reiterate the value of high-quality U.S. beef to our importers, buyers and traders.”
Below are some examples of how USMEF checkoff efforts were focused this fall:
It Wouldn't be Western Without BBQ
The recent checkoff-funded Great American BBQ in Hong Kong brought together 360 key beef industry players and decision-makers under a Western theme. In this setting, U.S. beef importers and distributors were able to showcase the high-quality attributes of U.S. beef and extend goodwill to the trade. By the end of the event, several distributors and restaurants issued specific inquiries about U.S. beef availability.
U.S. Beef Makes Hot-Pot Better in Hong Kong
During the fall season, Hong Kong restaurateurs scramble fiercely for the multi-million dollar hot-pot market. Hot-pot is a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table used to cook thin slices of frozen meat and fresh vegetables. This method of cooking is especially popular during the fall and winter months.
This prompted USMEF to sponsor a hot-pot promotion at Cafe De Coral, the No. 1 fast food chain with more 130 outlets in Hong Kong. The giant chain prominently featured U.S. grain-fed beef for the promotion. A preliminary survey revealed that most customers who tried the menu were impressed with the high quality of U.S. beef. At least two containers of U.S. Choice-grade beef short ribs were used for this promotion.
And at Maxim's, Hong Kong's largest food and beverage corporation and restaurant chain, USMEF helped the restaurant conduct a hot-pot promotion following Chef Jay McCarthy's chef seminar demonstrating underutilized U.S. beef cuts. According to Maxim's beef importer, the chain already has sold more than 20 mt (more than 44,000 pounds) of U.S. chuck-eye roll and placed another order for 20-30 mt of U.S. beef.
“USMEF and the beef checkoff continue to make every effort to strengthen our relationships with customers in these international markets,” concluded Halstrom. “Short-term, we need full access to these markets. Longer term, we need to remind consumers of the great taste, exceptional safety and consistent quality of our beef.”