USMEF African Buyers Seminar, Showcase Set for Sept. 22 in Ghana


USMEF is organizing a first-of-its-kind buyers seminar and showcase in Sub-Saharan Africa later this year as part of an ongoing effort to increase exports of U.S. red meat to this rapidly developing region.

Set for Sept. 22 in Accra, Ghana, the event will focus on U.S. beef and pork trade opportunities for U.S. exporters and African buyers. An educational seminar will be followed by a “Meet the Buyers” session designed to encourage exporters and buyers to discuss current and future business opportunities.

“This is part of our ongoing initiative at USMEF to explore the opportunities for U.S. beef and pork in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing. “Ghana has been chosen as the location because it is easily accessible for the whole of Africa, which will accommodate expected attendees from multiple countries.”

The seminar and showcase in Ghana is the result of a meeting hosted by USMEF earlier this year in Atlanta, which served as a rollout of information gathered during a 2014 research project on the region. Halstrom noted that the main takeaway from the Atlanta meeting, which was attended by more than 60 USMEF members, was that packers and exporters are excited about the potential of the Sub-Saharan Africa market and are anxious to build new business relationships in the region.

“The high level of interest shown at the unveiling in Atlanta – that is one of the main reasons behind holding this showcase,” Halstrom said. “We will have a section on U.S. pork that is really designed for the buyers from the various countries in the region, and then another section that is focused on U.S. beef. Discussions will include animal production practices, slaughter plant processes, food safety and the importance of proper cold chain management.”

In addition, Halstrom said that the seminar will focus on merchandising opportunities, along with economic analysis of applicable products.

During the “Meet the Buyers” portion of the event, USMEF members will be able to meet one-on-one with industry contacts from the region about potential commercial opportunities for business and learn more about each other’s needs.

Bill Duggan, vice president of refrigerated services for Maersk Line, speaks at the January unveiling of USMEF’s Sub-Saharan Africa project in Atlanta

Bill Duggan, vice president of refrigerated services for Maersk Line, speaks at the January unveiling of USMEF’s Sub-Saharan Africa project in Atlanta

“We’re expecting buyers from across the region to attend, including Nigeria, Angola, Benin, Gabon, Senegal and, of course, Ghana,” Halstrom said, while noting the growth of the middle class and the increasing economic strength and buying power in those countries as a definite opportunity for the U.S. industry.

At the same time, the seminar will remind companies that they should proceed with caution, as emerging international markets typically feature some risks when it comes to terms of credit and business practices.

One of the fastest growing and most vibrant economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana has a growing middle class and is recognized as having significant exports of gold, cocoa and oil. The nation has seen rapid development and economic growth in recent years.

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Ghana is increasingly a headquarters location of choice for international companies operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, as it serves as an ideal gateway to the West African sub-regional market of 250 million consumers. USTR’s most recent statistics show that U.S. goods exports to Ghana in 2013 were $1.1 billion.

USMEF also continues to monitor ongoing discussions between U.S. trade officials and the government of South Africa. The two parties recently announced that they would work to resolve issues currently blocking U.S. pork and beef from the South African market. As USMEF examines opportunities for U.S. beef and pork in western and central Africa, regaining access to South Africa would help advance this effort.

“From a trade standpoint, we believe that South Africa plays a very important role in the region,” Halstrom said. “The South African retail and foodservice industries are fairly sophisticated, and the region follows many trends that first emerge there. So if we are able to add South Africa to the markets served by U.S. exporters, this would be a very positive development.”

USMEF is accepting registrations for the Sept. 22 seminar and showcase, which will be held at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra. For information or to register, please email Dan Halstrom or Monty Brown, or call 303-623-6328.