To introduce U.S. beef to a wider audience in Ukraine and demonstrate the product’s consistency and reliability to retailers and the HRI sector, USMEF conducted educational workshops in Odessa, the country’s third-largest city. Funding support was provided by the Beef Checkoff Program.
While not new to Odessa – a major port and transportation hub on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea – U.S. beef at the retail level is somewhat limited.
“U.S. beef is on the menus at the most popular steakhouses in Odessa, but we are working to get more retail businesses and outlets interested in it,” said Galina Kochubeeva, USMEF representative in the Greater Russia region. “The goal for USMEF in presenting this kind of workshop is to reach more people and create more interest in U.S. beef by giving decision-makers a proper introduction and letting them cook it and taste it. We also include consumers, because they are the ones who ultimately create demand.”
The anchor store of the Santim supermarket chain hosted both U.S. beef workshops, which were attended by restaurant staff, retail managers and selected consumers. Well-known chefs presented demonstrations on handling, cutting and preparing U.S. beef. One workshop was conducted by Igor Belongog, a member of the Polish Chefs Association, while the other was led by Oleg Starun, chef at Beef: Wine & Meat, a famous steakhouse in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital and largest city.
At both workshops, USMEF distributed informational materials about U.S. beef production, grading and preparation. Retailers were given merchandising tips for U.S beef.
As part of the promotional effort, eight U.S. beef tastings for consumers were held at two leading Santim locations and special training was conducted for the chain’s meat department sales team.
Growth in Odessa, a city of more than 1.1 million people, has created optimism among consumers and the food industry, Kochubeeva said. A boom in tourism is also generating expansion of the hospitality industry.
“Since USMEF’s first workshop there in 2013, Odessa has become more modern and comfortable for citizens and visitors,” she explained. “There have been huge investments in construction and sea transportation and logistics businesses. More investment is expected, which could be very prosperous for the city’s retail, restaurant and hotel industries.”
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