Audio: Strong Interest in U.S. Beef at Gulfood 2017

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Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing, just returned from Gulfood 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He explains that while Gulfood began as regional trade show, it has developed into one of the premier food exhibitions in the world, attracting buyers from wide range of countries. USMEF’s participation in Gulfood was made possible through support from the Beef Checkoff Program, the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

Interest in U.S. beef was strong at Gulfood, including inquiries from Saudi Arabian buyers. U.S. beef had been locked out of Saudi Arabia since May 2012 due to a BSE-related ban, but recently regained eligibility. Halstrom notes that significant obstacles remain for U.S. exporters who want to serve Saudi Arabia, but he is hopeful that U.S. beef will reestablish a presence in the market this year.


Joe Schuele: There was strong interest in U.S. beef at the annual Gulfood show in Dubai. U.S. Meat Export Federation Senior Vice President for Marketing Dan Halstrom is just back from the show. He offers his observations in this USMEF report.

Dan Halstrom: Gulfood started out being more of a Middle East regional show, but it’s really evolved into more of a global food show. You have Middle East region representatives, you’ve got Europe, Russia, China, even some Latin America countries that have a presence there, so it’s really a global show today. U.S. beef is a niche in this region, a high-end, high niche, especially for folks in the foodservice sector. But if you take the family style dining sector, for example, with burgers and a lot of chucks, briskets going into ground beef production for burgers. This is a good example of a segment where we’ve become much more competitive. We’re seeing share expand, not only in the Emirates, where this show was held, but also in countries such as Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc., so it is a good opportunity to take some additional share.

Joe Schuele: U.S. beef is eligible for Saudi Arabia for the first time in four years. While buyer interest was strong at Gulfood, serving the market still presents obstacles.

Dan Halstrom: This is one of the bright spots at the show, a lot of discussion around Saudi Arabia. We were last in that market four years ago, and it was about a $31 million market. With a population in excess of 29 million people, relatively wealthy people, there is definitely demand for U.S. beef. In that regard there was a lot of optimism. The downside of it is that there haven’t been a lot of plants approved for export to Saudi Arabia yet. That’s in process. The conditions that we re-opened in are a little bit tight in terms of plants that can qualify, but we’re optimistic that we can work through that and see some volume start to go in 2017 into Saudi.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.