USMEF-Taiwan recently held a U.S. branded beef seminar to further educate Taiwanese foodservice and retail operators about high-quality, branded U.S. Beef. The two-day seminar was funded through support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program and state and national corn checkoff programs.
“Events like these are a great way to connect in a market like Taiwan,” said Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. “It’s an excellent venue for introducing branded beef products to buyers in both the foodservice and retail sectors, and to convey information about U.S. beef that will appeal to their customers – including new preparation methods.”
Nearly 100 foodservice and retail professionals were in attendance, with many representing high-end outlets.
“This was my first U.S. beef seminar, and I really enjoyed learning about U.S. branded beef programs and the opportunity to network with others in the industry,” said Rachel Wei, purchasing manager for Top One Pot, a popular restaurant chain. She said the information gained at the seminar was very helpful in planning for Top One Pot’s upcoming expansion.
Kevin Lin, director of purchasing for Bistro 88, offered similar feedback.
“This seminar allowed me to get to know the packers and importers who are knowledgeable about branded beef programs, and to hear from them about how these products can help my business,” he said. “I look forward to working with USMEF and these companies in the future.”
In addition to their discussions with representatives of several U.S. packers and local importers, attendees were also introduced to a number of U.S. beef brands and had an opportunity to sample products. The event featured four chefs who created innovative dishes that combined U.S. branded beef products with popular local ingredients.
Beef safety concerns are a significant issue in Taiwan, so the seminar also featured a segment with Dr. Wu Yun-Chu of Tung Hai University, who addressed many common misperceptions about the safety of U.S. beef. He also offered a detailed explanation of the key differences between chilled and frozen beef.
Special guests at the seminar included Mark Ford, director of the agricultural trade office at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and Rosemary Kao, AIT agricultural specialist.
“The Taiwan beef market is performing well, but it is extremely competitive with an influx of lower-priced beef from Australia and imports from New Zealand that are capitalizing on lower tariffs from the new free trade agreement with Taiwan,” Haggard explained. “Therefore it is more important than ever that we clearly differentiate U.S. beef and showcase its unique attributes. Conducting seminars like this one is a key element of that strategy.”
After a slow start, U.S. beef exports to Taiwan rebounded to finish 2014 5 percent higher in volume (33,804 metric tons) and 15 percent higher in value ($293.6 million) than a year ago.