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Estonian, Latvian Buyers Show Strong Interest in Alternative U.S. Beef Cuts

Published: Thursday, October 13th, 2016

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In an effort to reach a broader range of prospective buyers in the Baltic region, USMEF participated in recent U.S. Food Showcase events in Tallinn, Estonia, and Riga, Latvia. USMEF’s efforts, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, were coordinated with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Warsaw, Poland.

USMEF Representative Yuri Barutkin answers questions from a prospective buyer and offers U.S. beef samples at the U.S. Food Showcase in Latvia

USMEF Representative Yuri Barutkin answers questions from a prospective buyer and offers U.S. beef samples at the U.S. Food Showcase in Latvia

The goal of the showcases was to familiarize Estonian and Latvian HRI food buyers, chefs and foodservice managers with U.S. products that are available in the Baltic markets. U.S. beef ribeye, short ribs and other cuts were displayed alongside Alaskan salmon and black cod, wines from California and U.S.-grown walnuts and prunes.

“Although U.S. beef is already represented in both Estonia and Latvia, many people attending the events were not aware of where they can buy the product,” said Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in St. Petersburg, Russia. “They also were not aware of what sets U.S. beef apart from competitors’ beef, and we were happy to show and explain it to them. Both events were a very cost-effective way to share this kind of information and present U.S. beef to a professional food industry audience.”

Attendees sample U.S. beef and receive information about production at the U.S. Food Showcase in Estonia

U.S. beef ribeye and short ribs were cooked for tasting

Along with an informational booth, USMEF organized tastings of ribeye and short ribs, and many visitors had questions about U.S. beef production techniques, grading procedures and menu applications. USMEF also shared with potential customers contacts of importers in the region that handle U.S. beef.

“Estonia and Latvia each have very sophisticated HRI sectors and many of the Baltic chefs are well-known outside the region,” explained Barutkin. “U.S. beef is served in some restaurants and hotels in Estonia and Latvia – not only the premium cuts but also alternative cuts. We believe we can increase the use of both types of cuts by letting the buyers know what’s out there that matches their needs.”

Barutkin noted that those attending the showcase events were particularly interested in alternative cuts of U.S. beef. He added that these less-expensive cuts present a good option for supplying cruise ships that frequent Baltic ports in the summer.

“These were very beneficial events with some very interesting guests representing HRI, trade, retail – and also several food journalists and bloggers,” Barutkin said. “USMEF will continue to work on these markets with what we learned, with particular emphasis on wider application of alternative U.S. beef cuts.”

Attendees sample U.S. beef and receive information about production at the U.S. Food Showcase in Estonia

Attendees sample U.S. beef and receive information about production at the U.S. Food Showcase in Estonia