As part of a strategy to increase sales of U.S. beef in northern Europe, USMEF teamed with the largest foodservice distributor in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to launch retail promotions at high-end retail stores. The promotions with Reaton Ltd. were funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.
“USMEF and Reaton have developed a partnership over the course of this year with regular trade service visits and educational masterclasses,” explained Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in the region. “Because of this work, Reaton has decided to make U.S. beef its main product in the high-end meat segment. Also, much of Reaton’s internal resources went toward providing education on U.S. beef and training for sales staff. USMEF hopes these efforts will result in a greater number of foodservice and retail outlets in the Baltics offering U.S. beef products.”
USMEF strategy in the region includes actively promoting alternative cuts in the market.
“We previously introduced top blade, chuck and sirloin in the Baltics as alternative cuts,” Barutkin noted. “Some worked better than others, but USMEF and Reaton are still trying to find that perfect mix of alternative cuts that will suit consumer preferences in this region.”
Meanwhile, the retail promotions at Gastronome and MC2 – two Reaton properties in Riga, the capital of Latvia – were targeted at customers who would be open to trying both premium and alternative steak cuts at home. Reaton offered these customers several retail cuts (U.S. beef shoulder clod cuts, ribeye and striploin) in convenient retail packaging. The retail promotion was supported by in-store tastings and radio and display advertising.
Ribeye was the best seller, followed by shoulder clod and striploin. Over the course of the two-week promotion, U.S. beef made up 72 percent of the total beef sales at Gastronome, Barutkin reported.
“To go from zero last year to 72 percent of all beef sales at their high-end stores this year was definitely good news,” he added. “In many outlets, U.S. beef seems to be replacing Australian product on the store shelves and in the HRI department. However, it is important to maintain this momentum and continue to educate all parties involved – the sales force, foodservice customers and consumers – about U.S. beef. We need to share not just the attributes of U.S. beef, but also highlight its availability, both at the retail and foodservice level.”