The USMEF Board of Directors Meeting is set to open Wednesday, May 21, in Kansas City and conclude Friday morning, May 23. The Product Showcase, which will be attended by 10 buyer teams from seven different regions, will be held Thursday evening, May 22.
USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng said that while export results have been strong so far this year, members will be discussing a number of economic and market access issues that have created a challenging business climate in 2014.
“Exports have performed quite well through the first quarter, especially considering the price situation and the paucity of both beef and pork,” he explained. “Under these circumstances, it’s very encouraging that we are still up 8 percent year-over-year in beef export volume and 15 percent in value, and for pork we are 11 percent higher in both volume and value. The return to the producer, in terms of an export dividend, is also the highest it’s ever been.”
Through March, pork export value per hog slaughtered was $60.76 – up 14 percent from the same period in 2013. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter was $254.63 – up 15 percent.
“But even with this strong performance, I would say our challenges are as daunting as they have ever been,” Seng said. “There is a lot of concern in the industry about the struggle to maintain supplies, and how this may impact exports. PEDV (porcine epidemic diarrhea virus) is obviously a major concern on the pork side, and spring weather – which has delayed corn and soybean planting in some areas – could further impact production costs.”
Wednesday’s general session will feature keynote speaker James V. Lochner, chief operating officer for Tyson Foods, addressing members on the value opportunities delivered by exports. This will be followed by a panel discussion on developing and emerging markets. Thursday’s general session will focus on the impact of social media on export promotions, and will be followed by meetings of the USMEF standing committees.
Seng noted that Thursday’s USMEF Product Showcase offers an outstanding opportunity for participating exporters to meet with buyers from across the globe.
“We have about 120 international participants, but it’s important to point out that each and every one of them is a qualified buyer representing large, prospective customers,” he said. “This ensures that U.S. suppliers participating in the showcase will get a strong return on their investment and develop relationships that will pay off for years to come. And while these buyers are here in the United States, they also have an opportunity to view the U.S. meat production process from farm to plate. That’s especially important in the competitive environment we face today.”