Continuing its effort to increase sales of U.S. beef in Baltic countries, USMEF participated in Reaton Professional Days, a traveling food exhibition for foodservice clients that featured suppliers presenting food products in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, USMEF’s participation included supporting U.S. beef master classes in each country while sharing tasting samples of U.S. beef sirloin, tri-tip and mock tender.
Because the Baltics are heavily focused on tourism, especially in drawing visitors from Russia and travelers who vacation on cruise liners, a key factor in growing the market for U.S. beef is attracting players in the hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) sector.
“The activities we are doing in the Baltics are part of our ongoing work to develop markets in those three countries where, over the past two years, we have seen serious growth in U.S. beef sales,” explained Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in the region. “Some of that growth was the result of market expansion, and some of it was winning a greater share of the high-quality beef market from our Australian competitors. While there are several distributors in the Baltics offering with U.S. beef, we do a lot of work with Reaton, one of the largest specialized HRI distributors in the region.”
USMEF set up a display booth at three separate shows – one in Riga, Latvia, one in Tallinn, Estonia and one in Vilnius, Lithuania. At master classes held during each event, U.S. Beef Ambassador Jeroen van Royen, a Dutch chef living in France, presented on the quality advantages of U.S. beef and provided foodservice and restaurant decision makers with ideas for using both high-end and alternative cuts of U.S. beef.
Barutkin estimated that more than 1,000 industry professionals stopped by the USMEF booth during the shows to ask questions and taste the three cuts of U.S. beef offered. Collectively, the master classes attracted nearly 200 participants.
Barutkin said USMEF’s promotional efforts in the Baltics in recent years appear to be paying off.
“At the end of 2018, Reaton reported to us that they have seen their sales volume of U.S. beef grow four times since they started working extensively with U.S. product,” said Barutkin. “Although the Baltic region overall is a small market, it was very satisfying to hear about that kind of expansion in sales – despite challenges associated with the EU’s duty-free tariff rate quota. USMEF and Reaton invest a lot of time and effort into educating customers about U.S. beef and in developing good, strong and sustainable sales in the region. The progress speaks for itself.”