Working to distinguish U.S. pork and beef from competitors’ products while building relationships with traders and foodservice operators in a fast-growing market, USMEF participated in the 2019 edition of Food and Hotel Vietnam. Funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the National Pork Board and the Beef Checkoff Program, the effort included coordination of meetings between USMEF members and importers, culinary competitions and a U.S. product showcase featuring U.S. beef and pork cuts.
USMEF is a contractor of the National Pork Board and a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff.
More than 700 exhibitors from 29 countries took part in the biennial trade show, which attracted 14,000 visitors – a 7 percent increase from 2017 – to the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City. Along with the U.S., countries with their own pavilions included Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey. The U.S. Pavilion was the largest, with 25 companies and cooperators promoting products.
“With all of this competition at Food and Hotel Vietnam, it has become one of the most important shows in the region when it comes to creating awareness for U.S. pork and beef, especially given the increasing demand for imported meat in Vietnam and some of the surrounding countries,” said Sabrina Yin, USMEF director in the ASEAN, who noted that Vietnam’s strong tourism industry has fueled the rapid development of its foodservice sector.
She explained that between 2010 and 2018, the number of international tourists in Vietnam tripled from 5 million to more than 15 million, and 18 million international guests are expected in 2019.
“At the same time, Vietnam has a bustling population of younger people, the fastest growing middle class in the ASEAN region and rising levels of disposable income,” said Yin. “With these cultural and demographic changes, consumer preferences in Vietnam have shifted toward Japanese, hot pot and barbecue cuisines. Those types of dishes provide opportunities for U.S. red meat.”
Officials from the U.S. Embassy participated in the show, including Consul General Mary Tarnowka, Agricultural Counselor Robert Hanson and Agricultural Attaché Gerald Smith.
At the USMEF booth, cuts displayed included U.S. beef short ribs, ribeye, striploin, outside skirt, top blade, short plate and rib fingers, along with U.S. pork belly, spareribs and a variety of bratwursts. Tasting samples of various dishes were served to visitors.
“We also distributed U.S. beef and pork meat charts and a wide range of informational brochures on U.S. red meat and red meat products,” said Nguyen Dang Minh, USMEF representative in Vietnam. “We were able to talk to several existing customers and made contact with many new potential customers. We also discussed the current market situation in Vietnam.”
Food and Hotel Vietnam also received considerable media coverage in local newspapers and magazines, on TV stations and through online reporting.
A U.S. product showcase and reception were held for traders and buyers unable to attend the show. That event, held at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel, attracted 300 guests. U.S. beef chuck roll roast and U.S. roast pork loin were served.
USMEF also sponsored three sessions of the Vietnam Culinary Challenge, with U.S. beef rib finger and U.S. boneless pork loin as the featured cuts.
Young chefs from hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, as well as student chefs from culinary institutes in Taiwan and Malaysia, participated in the competition.
“The Challenge provided a platform for U.S. beef and pork to be used in an array of dishes infused with creative touches – and it was also a chance for the young chefs to have a hands-on experience in utilizing U.S. beef and pork,” said Nguyen. “This event provided excellent exposure for U.S. red meat to be featured in a world-class cooking competition.”