The Oklahoma Beef Council funded product cooking and sampling sessions for a 10-week period this summer and early fall, demonstrating the unique quality characteristics of U.S. chilled beef – including tenderloin, sirloin, ribeye and rump steak – in 16 major retail outlets in the U.A.E. While the response from in-store consumers was very positive, these promotional sessions also served a broader purpose. USMEF invited U.A.E. importers to attend the demonstrations on a daily basis so they could see firsthand the remarkable potential for high-quality cuts of U.S. beef. The importers also discussed sales trends and marketing strategies for U.S. beef with representatives of the three participating retail chains – Lulu Hypermarkets, Choithram Supermarkets and Al Maya Supermarkets. –
“These retailers make up an interesting cross-section of the U.A.E.’s supermarket sector,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for global marketing and communications. “With 70 locations across the Gulf Region, Lulu is a true leader in the hypermarket concept – putting virtually all household needs under one roof. Choithram has 33 locations, but is very much a local chain specializing in high-end food items. Al Maya provides a happy medium – it’s a multi-purpose supermarket, but on a smaller scale than the hypermarket chains.”
The U.S. beef sampling sessions definitely provided a bounce for beef sales at the participating outlets. During the promotional period, U.S. beef sales at 16 participating locations (13 in Dubai and three in U.A.E. capital city Abu Dhabi) surged by 270 percent to 302 percent compared to pre-campaign levels. Results from the week after the demonstrations concluded were still impressive – 166 percent to 200 percent above previous sales.
“The Oklahoma Beef Council made a serious commitment in 2012 to helping expand U.S. beef sales in the international marketplace,” said council Chairman R.D. Farr of Bartlesville, Okla. “It was an easy decision to make, because we recognize the important role exports play in the bottom line of the producers we serve in Oklahoma. We are thrilled to see such positive results from this retail promotion.”
“With favorable market access, a rapidly maturing supermarket sector and a growing middle class hungry for high-quality proteins, the retail opportunities for U.S. beef in the U.A.E. are just remarkable,” Halstrom said. “The investment made by Oklahoma cattle producers has not only allowed us to better penetrate this market in the short term, it’s also helped us bring together importers, distributors and retailers in ways that will help us grow demand for many years to come. And these are principles that will not only help us succeed in Dubai, but can be applied in other key markets throughout the Gulf Region.”
Through August, U.S. beef exports to the U.A.E. surged by 34 percent in value over a year ago to $33.4 million. With four months of results still to be reported, export value is already approaching the calendar year record of $38.8 million, set in 2011. While these results include a small volume of variety meat, more than 95 percent of the beef export value to the U.A.E. is derived from muscle cuts.