Senior-level buyers from some of the top red meat importers in China and Hong Kong toured the heartland of America with USMEF last month, getting a top-to-bottom education on U.S. agriculture and the red meat industry.
The 13-person visiting team included the presidents of four of that region’s largest red meat importers in addition to several senior officers (purchasing managers and general managers) and the supply chain director of Pizza Hut Hong Kong Management Ltd., one of Pizza Hut’s largest international franchisees with operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Developed with funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program, the team of buyers toured beef processing plants in Nebraska, cattle ranches in Kansas and Nebraska and numerous retail outlets. The group also participated in a Meat 101 class conducted by Dr. Terry Houser, associate professor at Kansas State University, who reviewed the quality and sensory aspects of U.S. beef.
Before returning to China, the visiting team received briefings from U.S. beef exporters and participated in the product showcase at the May USMEF board of directors meeting that brought 120 international buyers together with 21 U.S. exporters at a session designed specifically to enhance U.S. exports.
“These meetings are a springboard to new business with qualified and respected buyers,” said Eric Brandt, president of One World Beef, which represents Harris Ranch and Brandt Beef. “These are the types of meetings we strive to attain and are grateful to be part of. We can only hope that the governments (of China and the U.S.) do the right thing and open up new (beef) trade between our countries so that commerce can begin. It will be a great day for American beef producers to finally have free access to a country where there is a lot of demand for U.S. beef.”
The visit by the team also earned high marks for the convenience it provides to U.S. exporters – bringing qualified buyers together as a group.
The team of buyers gave its own high marks on the visit, according to Ming Liang, USMEF-Shanghai marketing director. “They indicated that they learned quite a lot from the trip,” he said. “They became familiar with more U.S. plants and companies that could potentially be future partners.”
The China/Hong Kong region is a significant one for U.S. beef exports. Through the first seven months of 2014, it is the No. 4 market in both volume and value for U.S. beef, purchasing 81,419 metric tons (179 million pounds) valued at $565 million, increases of 35 percent in volume and 53 percent in value over 2013.