USMEF used the opportunity to hold special culinary education and product information events specifically targeted at key pork and beef importers, retailers and foodservice professionals. These guests experienced the positive characteristics of a wide variety of beef and pork products prepared on state-of-the-art cooking equipment. Importers were also invited to attend a series of USMEF seminars featuring Professor Lai Hsiu-Shui, dean of veterinary medicine at National Taiwan University, well-known epicurean expert Yao Shun and Ms. Chuan Chia-Li, who is an expert in healthy dining. Dr. Lai reeducated buyers on common industry misperceptions that have been fueled by misleading media reports, so that they can better communicate pork and beef safety facts to their clients. The other two panelists offered insights on dining and dietary trends that will prove very helpful to the meat industry in meeting changing consumer demands.
USMEF also made direct interaction with consumers one of its top priorities at the Taipei International Food Show. In order to best capitalize on this opportunity, USMEF used the theme “from farm to table” to design an attractive consumer interaction area. Well-known Taiwanese chefs discussed the unique characteristics of U.S. pork and beef at the event, educating consumers on handling, preparation and cooking techniques. A video detailing the U.S. meat production process allowed consumers to better appreciate efforts made by the U.S. meat industry to provide Taiwan with safe, high-quality products and to rebuild consumer confidence in U.S. pork and beef. “USMEF’s exporter members really appreciated our full participation in this food show, despite the sensitivity of the ractopamine ban,” said Davis Wu, USMEF-Taiwan director. “The venue was an excellent communication platform for the exporters – one in which we could really emphasize transparency and the details of product safety. We also learned a lot of valuable information from this food show concerning consumer preferences and dining trends.”
Despite export activity being curbed by Taiwan’s new ractopamine testing protocol, Taiwan remains a key market for both U.S. pork and beef. Through April, 2011 pork exports totaled 12,218 metric tons (26.94 million pounds) valued at more than $21 million – down 5 percent in volume and 9 percent in value compared to 2010. Beef exports totaled 10,252 metric tons (22.6 million pounds) valued at $57.1 million – down 11 percent and 5 percent respectively. (Totals include muscle cuts, pork variety meat and a limited range of beef offal.)