“What makes Vietnam appealing to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is almost certainly the same conditions that put it on this audience’s radar as well,” said Mark Jagels, USMEF vice chairman, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board and a corn and soybean farmer and custom cattle feeder from south-central Nebraska.
“It has a growing population that tops 90 million,” Jagels said, adding that the Vietnamese economy had an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 7 percent from 2005 to 2010, and it is one of the fastest foodservice markets in the world.
Vietnam currently is the third-largest market for soybeans in the world, the fourth-largest market for U.S. distiller’s dried grains (DDGS), and a growing market for both U.S. beef and pork, making it a valued trading partner for a variety of American industries.
USMEF has worked aggressively in Vietnam in recent years. Since 2005, per capita pork consumption in that country has risen 17.3 percent from 41.3 pounds to 48.4 pounds while beef consumption has more than doubled from 6.9 pounds to 14.3. Jagels cited examples of program activities conducted by USMEF ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin that range from seminars for chefs to meat-cutting demonstrations to education efforts with the processing sector.
Other speakers at the session elaborated on the importance of Vietnam as a trading partner. Roy Bardole, chairman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, noted that Vietnam is the third-largest aquaculture producer in the world, which has greatly increased its demand for American soybeans.
Thomas Dorr, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, added that Vietnam is the eighth-largest market for U.S. feedstuffs, and a key country in the growth of the global middle class that will add 350 million middle class families (with a minimum income of $20,000) around the world by 2020.