The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently hosted a team of beef buyers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Finland and Norway for a firsthand look at U.S. beef production, processing and merchandising. Funded by the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas, the team’s activities included tours of U.S. beef processing plants, a “Beef 101” educational course at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, visits to retail outlets and restaurants and a meeting with USMEF staff at its Denver headquarters. The group also toured ranching and cattle feeding operations and met with industry experts on issues such as traceability and source verification.
Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative for Europe, Russia and Central Asia, notes that team members gathered valuable information about U.S. beef that they can share with their clients, which are primarily European foodservice outlets but also include some retail chains. He added that while U.S. beef middle meats are popular in Europe, the market will be more viable and profitable if a higher percentage of the cuts derived from non-hormone treated cattle* are exported to Europe. Therefore, one of the objectives of the tour was to show buyers the attributes of alternative U.S. beef cuts, such as those from the chuck and round.
(*NOTE: European Union member states require all beef to be from non-hormone treated cattle. Norway is not an EU member, but also adheres to this requirement.)
Joe Schuele: The U.S. Meat Export Federation just finished hosting a team of European beef buyers. Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in the region, has more details in this USMEF report:
Yuri Barutkin: We had representatives from Sweden, Norway, Finland, representing Scandinavia, and we had the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia representing Central and Eastern Europe. They were not direct importers of U.S. beef but the distributors of U.S. beef in their home countries. Most of their clients would be the food-service companies but some of their clients were actually distributors to retail outlets as well. So because they sell a very niche product and a very high-end product, they need to see the story behind U.S. beef so they can see why it is so special and pass that knowledge to their clients in their home countries.
Joe Schuele: While U.S. beef middle meats sell very well in Europe, Barutkin notes that one of the objectives of the visit was to build demand for more economically priced alternative cuts.
Yuri Barutkin: So apart from just seeing the slaughter facilities, seeing the farms, the feedlots, we also paid a lot of attention to the science behind U.S. beef and what makes it so special. We were hosted by the University of Nebraska where people could get the scientific knowledge into what is behind U.S. beef. One of the things that we were trying to achieve to give much more knowledge to them about alternative cuts and the way they’re being used in the United States, the gastronomical and culinary experiences with alternative cuts, because I think this is where we can achieve much more in the European market. And if we can manage to find the best distribution of the cuts, that would help the U.S. beef industry to maximize the value of the carcass that they sell in the European Union.
Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.