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Audio: U.S. Beef Gains Expanded Access to Thailand

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U.S. beef has gained expanded access to Thailand, now that BSE-related import restrictions have been lifted. Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, explains that boneless and bone-in beef cuts from cattle of all ages are now eligible for export to Thailand, provided the cattle are processed on or after April 1. Previously, only boneless cuts derived from cattle under 30 months of age were eligible.

Haggard notes that while Thailand will remain a small destination for U.S. beef (last year, exports to Thailand totaled about $3 million) the new import regulations will generate more interest in the market from U.S. exporters. He adds that some Thai importers have already inquired about popular bone-in cuts such as short ribs and prime rib.

Efforts to gain full beef access in Thailand are not yet complete, as beef variety meat and offal items remain ineligible. USMEF is seeking clarification on the eligibility of processed beef products.


TRANSCRIPT:

Joe Schuele: U.S. beef now has expanded access to Thailand, thanks to the removal of BSE-related import restrictions. U.S. Meat Export Federation Senior Vice President for the Asia-Pacific Joel Haggard has more details in this USMEF report.

Joel Haggard: American beef derived from cattle harvested after April 1 can now be exported to the Kingdom of Thailand. Bone-in or boneless from cattle of all ages. Those who have watched the U.S. march back from the devastating BSE import bans put in place over 13 years ago will recall that many markets, Thailand included, initially extended boneless-only conditions to U.S. beef. Although science had established early on that bone-in beef had the same risk as boneless product, the half-step led to some almost surreal inspections in some countries. Thailand enforced its boneless conditions with exceptional rigor. We remember entire shipments of premium items, such as prime ribeye rolls lost based on the findings of a single millimeter-long chip. But now that’s hopefully behind us with the new rules.

Joe Schuele: Last year, the U.S. industry exported about $3 million worth of beef to Thailand. And even with expanded access, it won’t be a major volume market. But Haggard explains that the access changes are already generating interest among Thai importers.

Joel Haggard: Thailand still imposes some of the highest import duties on beef of any import market. Like other Asian markets, we compete in the premium segment with Australian product that enjoys some preferential access there under a free trade deal. So the market is likely to remain a small one for U.S. exporters, but as a world class foodie destination – we’ve all heard of Bangkok and its range of eating options from street food to high end steak houses – there are a number of foodservice and retail operatives that do want to feature American beef. Importers are already sending pricing inquiries to our exporters for items such as bone-in short ribs and prime rib .

Joe Schuele: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.