U.S. beef and pork are a success in the Caribbean islands, with new cuts and recipes attracting home cooks and chefs alike. Retail promotions, cooking contests, trade shows, U.S. industry tours and personal contacts by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) are helping increase interest in U.S. red meat, and developing new markets for a variety of products.
“We're establishing solid relationships with chefs, retailers and companies purchasing beef and pork in most of the Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica and the Netherland Antilles,” according to Elizabeth Wunderlich, USMEF consultant to the Caribbean. “Our strategy is to deliver the same messages to buyers and consumers in the islands, but in different ways. As a result, they are finding a lot to like about what U.S. red meat has to offer.”
In 2006 the United States exported 25,816 metric tons (mt) of pork and pork variety meat to the Caribbean, worth more than $48.5 million, a 32 percent increase over 2005. Meanwhile, 16,704 metric tons of U.S. beef and beef variety meat worth more than $68.6 million were exported to the islands, a 29 percent increase over the year before.
Among the recent efforts by USMEF in the Caribbean was participation in a foodservice trade show for chefs and purchasing managers in late March in Bermuda. A booth at the show enabled U.S. meat companies to offer samples of their products and make contact with hundreds of decision makers.
In addition, a retail promotion was kicked off in that country, featuring on-pack labels on a variety of underutilized U.S. beef cuts. Included in the promotion was the top sirloin merchandised six ways.
In conjunction with the promotion, 30-second commercials ran on local radio stations, with chefs of popular restaurants, who were winners of the USMEF chef competition, voicing the spots. Supermarkets featured specials of the week, and additional recipe cards at the stores were provided by Certified Angus Beef LLC.
“We were able to show the supermarkets how they could add additional products to their case from the top sirloin,” says Wunderlich. “It was a win-win for the stores and for the U.S. beef industry.”
In Jamaica recent efforts encourage retailers to add lower-priced cuts to their top quality offerings that sell well. Foodservice growth has been seen in U.S. beef clod heart, flatiron steak, tri-tip and brisket, Wunderlich says. A foodservice barbecue promotion in Bermuda during May will feature some of these cuts, while a seminar with local hotels in Curaçao in July will demonstrate cutting methods buyers and chefs can use to increase usage of U.S. beef.
Earlier this year in Barbados, deskside seminars for chefs, retailers and buyers conducted by Wunderlich demonstrated cutting methods for these items. “We made believers of salespeople for the products,” she says. “They now know they can have something different that sells well, and be perfectly comfortable with the product.”
Through another USMEF retail promotion, a team of six meat merchandisers from the Caribbean traveled to the Annual Meat Conference in Florida, attending a full-day seminar on U.S. meat production and marketing at the University of Florida. Several members of this team took information from the tour back to their operations and implemented what they had learned, using U.S. beef and pork.
June events also are being planned for chefs and retailers in other Caribbean islands, including St. Maarten, Aruba, Anguilla, Curaçao, and Trinidad & Tobago. Among the cuts to be promoted to some of these countries include U.S. pork sirloin, shoulder cushion, crown roast and steamship leg.
“Because the United States is close to the islands, we have a great opportunity to reach out to these markets,” says Wunderlich. “U.S. beef and pork are making great inroads in the Caribbean.”
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.