A group of top red meat importers from the Shanghai and Beijing regions of China were given a firsthand look at U.S. agriculture and the U.S. meat industry earlier this month as part of an educational tour in Missouri and Iowa that was organized by USMEF with funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff. The team experienced the many steps that result in production of high-quality U.S. beef and pork, and were able to ask questions and participate in discussions at every stop of the tour.
The team, which included representatives of more than a dozen importing and trading companies, toured a large-scale hog slaughter facility, met with retail executives from the HyVee and Fareway retail grocery chains, were given a presentation by Iowa Premium Beef and visited the farming and cattle feeding operation owned by Bill Couser. Led by USMEF-Shanghai Marketing Executive Vanessa Sun and USMEF-Beijing Trade and Business Development Manager Yanshu Wang, the buyer team was also given a tour of the Iowa State University Meats Laboratory, where they were able to sample U.S. beef and pork products.
“We’ve hosted international trade teams in the past, and the Chinese teams always arrive with plenty of questions – this recent team was no different,” said Couser, who raises about 5,000 head of cattle each year just outside of Nevada, Iowa. “They are very curious and several of them had good questions about our feedlot operation and how we calculate the feed rations for our cattle.”
Before the drive to Iowa and the stop at the Couser farm, the Chinese team toured the Triumph Foods slaughter facility in St. Joseph, Missouri, which processes more than 6 million hogs each year. All products from the plant are marketed and sold by Seaboard Foods in both the domestic and international markets.
From there it was on to Ames, Iowa, for meetings with the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Premium Beef, a company specializing in USDA Choice and Prime grade beef as well as items produced for the Certified Angus Beef brand.
Faculty and graduate students at Iowa State University’s Meats Laboratory welcomed the Chinese visitors with tours and explanations about the school’s programs and facilities. Dr. Steven Lonergan, an ISU professor whose area of research is molecular mechanisms impacting muscle growth, meat quality and muscle food functionality in value-added systems, spoke to the team about meat science and meat quality.
The delegation’s visit to Iowa concluded with a Meet the Buyers luncheon in which they had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with U.S. suppliers.