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USMEF Matches Buyers, Exporters at Latin American Product Showcase

Nearly 60 red meat buyers from 10 countries throughout Central and South America met with 30 USMEF exporter members in Lima, Peru, last week at the fourth annual USMEF Latin America Product Showcase, helping to further expand the presence of U.S. beef in this rapidly growing region.

The showcase, which opened with an address from newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Peru Brian Nichols, attracted buyers from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and the host country, Peru.

The agenda included educational sessions that provided an overview of current meat price trends in the U.S., as well as an introduction to the U.S. production process with details on livestock feed, animal breeds and marbling. Participants also had an opportunity to learn about different cuts through presentations as well as tasting sessions.

“Our team was able to make some great contacts and we look forward to pursuing those contacts and closing deals,” said Dean Freese, national account sales manager for FPL Food.

Some buyers in attendance were looking to make contacts for future purchases, such as Rodrigo Vasquez from Supermercados Perunos SA in Peru.

“I was able to find some new processed products that I think will be successful in Peru,” said Vasquez.

Others, such as a buyer from the region who asked to remain anonymous, were looking for more immediate results.

“I met many new suppliers at the showcase and we decided to purchase two containers of U.S. beef products after meeting the companies,” said the buyer.

Nebraska cattle producers Rod and Laura Gray speak with Veronica Leon Macias, international sales manager for Northern Beef Industries, Inc.  Rod Gray is a member of the Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors

Nebraska cattle producers Rod and Laura Gray speak with Veronica Leon Macias, international sales manager for Northern Beef Industries, Inc. Rod Gray is a member of the Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors

The 2014 Latin American Product Showcase was the fourth that USMEF has held in the region, following similar sessions in Panama, Colombia and Guatemala. This was the third showcase attended by Rod Gray, a rancher from Harrison, Nebraska, and member of the Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors.

“A few years ago when the Nebraska Beef Council first began sponsoring this showcase, we saw it as a great opportunity for the U.S. industry to get its foot in the door in Central and South America,” Gray said. “We’re very pleased with the way this event has grown and the opportunities it creates for our products. Each year I meet new buyers from different locations, but I see familiar faces among the buyers as well. Capitalizing on the excellent relationships we are building in this region is a high priority for us.”

The Nebraska Beef Council and the Illinois Soybean Association have provided funding support for the Latin American Product Showcase since its inception in 2011. The Wisconsin Beef Council also helped fund costs associated with this year’s event.

Between 2010 and 2013, U.S. beef exports to Central and South America increased 149 percent in volume and 230 percent in value, reaching 42,104 metric tons valued at $156.4 million last year. Two markets in the region, Ecuador and Uruguay, recently reopened to U.S. beef for the first time since December 2003.

“The momentum we are seeing in this region is outstanding,” said USMEF South America representative Jessica Julca. “These product showcases attract a variety of buyers, including many who are not familiar with U.S. products and our production systems. By bringing them together with exporters who have a wide range of offerings, we are establishing relationships that will help U.S. red meat exports grow for years to come.”