As part of an effort to reach more consumers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and neighboring countries in the Middle East, USMEF conducted a large retail campaign that introduced U.S. beef for the first time to customers of Union Coop, a consumer cooperative with 15 outlets in Dubai. The overall effort, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, focused on a variety of U.S beef cuts and processed items in 40 promotional activities in top supermarket chains in Dubai and Qatar.
“The ultimate goal was to encourage retailers to carry more U.S. beef products, and the best way to accomplish that is to let their customers taste U.S. beef and learn about the product’s safety and reliability,” explained Bassam Bousaleh, USMEF representative in the region. “We were able to reach many new consumers through education and the in-store tastings.”
USMEF put demonstration stands in the meat sections of each participating retail outlet. Along with product sampling, shoppers received bilingual leaflets titled, “U.S. Beef Succulent Juicy Goodness,” which conveyed the quality of U.S. beef and food safety messages, in addition to beef storage tips.
U.S. beef products displayed and sampled were ribeye, striploin, tenderloin, burger patties, roasted beef, gyro, beef strips, beef pastrami and smoked beef.
Thushara Fernando, executive chef at the Hilton Garden Inn, and Suresh Babu, group executive chef for Landmark Hotels and Suites, participated in many of the activities, relaying the safety, freshness, flavor and texture of U.S. beef – as well as other advantages of U.S. beef over competitors’ products.
UAE retail chains in which the activities took place
- Lulu Hypermarket, a well-recognized retail chain in the region, operating 133 stores. In 2017 Lulu opened new branches in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
- Park n Shop, a supermarket chain that sells a wide range of products from day-to day-home needs to items needed for holidays and other special occasions.
- Geant Hypermarket, a French-based hypermarket chain running more than 142 stores around the world, including 14 in the UAE.
Union Coop, a consumer cooperative with warehouses in Al Quoz, UAE, and the nearby Jebel Ali Free Zone, and well-established logistics that ensure continuous support to retail outlets.
“Through in-store product demonstrations and samplings, USMEF established a positive image for U.S. beef based on quality, consistency and value, and succeeded in expanding U.S. beef’s retail presence by introducing numerous cuts and processed items,” said Bousaleh. “Buyers were reassured of the safety of U.S. beef and that it was halal, and they expressed their satisfaction at the juiciness, tenderness and flavor of the sampled beef cuts.”
According to Bousaleh, in the days following the U.S. beef promotional activities sales at Lulu stores increased 150 percent to 200 percent. U.S. beef sales at Park n Shop and Geant increased by 80 percent and 76 percent, respectively, two weeks after the promotional events.