‘Days of U.S. Steak’ Promotion Draws Consumers to U.S. Beef in UzbekistanPublished: Thursday, July 7th, 2016
USMEF has partnered with a beef importer in Uzbekistan to organize “Days of American Steak,” an ongoing event that features nine high-end restaurants in the capital city of Tashkent highlighting U.S. steaks. This initiative, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, has received positive social media coverage and created interest across Uzbekistan’s HRI sector.
Starting in mid-April, the campaign began with a simple strategy: offer customers who dine at these restaurants the opportunity to order a variety of U.S. beef cuts: New York strip, tomahawk chop, ribeye, bone-in ribeye, porterhouse, T-bone, machete, Dallas filet or filet medallions.
“We started this promotional effort with nine Tashkent restaurants but we hope to see more and more locations adding U.S. beef to their offerings,” explained Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in Russia and the surrounding region. “In fact, the whole idea of ‘the Days of American Steak’ is to make the product visible to other HRI players and accessible for many more consumers. It is a bit of the ‘chicken and egg’ thing. What comes first, demand or supply? We want consumers to be aware of what the U.S. has to supply so that they start asking HRI and retail outlets to provide it. That will build demand.”
Famous Uzbekistani food blogger Bakhior Nosimov was on hand for the launch of “Days of American Steak” and helped draw attention to the promotion with his postings, which have a very loyal following.
USMEF has been working with industry contacts in Uzbekistan – a country of 30 million people once considered an untapped market for U.S. beef and pork – for about three years, Barutkin said. The market had remained conservative, taking only primal cuts, until USMEF used educational seminars and workshops to make alternative cuts more popular.
One restaurateur who benefitted from these outreach efforts is Alisher HalimbetovI, of Tashkent’s City Grill – a participant in the “Days of American Steak.” He traveled to the U.S. last year for a U.S. beef workshop in Texas.
“I saw firsthand the U.S. beef industry, from the farms to the restaurants in Texas,” said HalimbetovI. “The local university professors taught us a great deal and explained the whole process that results in safe, high-quality meat.”
USMEF’s goal of providing Tashkent consumers with the same access to U.S. beef that is enjoyed by the best restaurants in New York, Paris, Seoul, Dubai and Tokyo is beginning to be realized, Barutkin noted.
“I think we can now say that the courses and classes we provided yielded results, with importers diversifying their U.S. beef portfolios with brisket, top blade, flap steak and sirloin,” he said, adding that one Uzbekistan importer has indicated its willingness to explore further opportunities with U.S beef at retail – both traditional and online. Portion control steaks for sale at top Tashkent supermarkets and butcher shops is the next step.