For the first time in many years, U.S. beef was part of an Independence Day celebration at the Tel Aviv residence of Daniel Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
Government officials, diplomats, members of the media and other guests gathered for the event, which featured hamburgers made with kosher U.S. beef.
Israel reopened to U.S. beef in January, ending a ban implemented in December 2003 following the first U.S. case of BSE. U.S. beef faced other obstacles in Israel in addition to the BSE-related ban, and U.S. trade and agricultural officials worked with the U.S. beef industry and USMEF to resume beef trade with Israel. Reopening of the market was approved after several visits to the United States by Israeli inspectors and regulators.
USMEF member WR Reserve, a beef processor based in Hastings, Nebraska, is the first U.S. supplier to export beef to Israel since the market reopened. Israel has a population of 8.5 million people – 75 percent of them of the Jewish faith. According to USDA, Israel imported more than $400 million worth of beef in 2014 – mostly from South American suppliers.
The Independence Day event recognized the return of U.S. beef. Signage hanging in the party’s outdoor dining area proclaimed “American Beef is Here!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Ambassador Shapiro spoke at the event, where guests were served about 2,000 hamburgers, along with 3,500 slices of pizza and 1,000 slices of cake. In his remarks, Shapiro praised the long-awaited return of U.S. beef.
“Our governments have worked hard over a long period to reopen this trade channel,” he said. “And I know Israeli consumers will be delighted as the first imports—from the great state of Nebraska, I should add—reach Israeli kitchens, b’ezrat ha’shem, later this year.”
See video highlights from the Independence Day celebration here.