The Nebraska Beef Council recently teamed with USMEF to showcase U.S. beef for importers, wholesalers, restaurateurs, chefs and other food industry professionals in Macau. This was the third consecutive year for the “Nebraska in Macau” event, which attracted a largest-ever turnout of about 220 attendees.
Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region of China. Though its population is just over 500,000, Macau has a thriving tourism and hospitality sector fueled by its unique position as a casino gambling destination.
Chris Abbott, a fifth-generation rancher from Gordon, Nebraska, and a member of the Nebraska Beef Council board of directors, was impressed with the turnout at the event and the enthusiasm for U.S. beef.
“I am really pleased with all the planning USMEF puts into the ‘Nebraska in Macau’ event and the effort that’s required to make it successful,” Abbott said. “The venue continues to grow, with more companies and sponsors participating each year – so we consider it an excellent investment.”
Abbott noted that because of the large volume of tourists Macau attracts, marketing efforts for U.S. beef reach a key regional target audience.
“It’s exciting to see such a rapidly growing middle class, with more and more people in this area able to afford high-quality U.S. beef,” he said.
Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region, says that although Macau’s gaming revenues are down this year, tourism numbers remain quite strong. Through October, 2014 tourist arrival numbers were up 8 percent year-over-year, with the year-end total expected to exceed 30 million.
“Until recently, many Chinese tourists went to Macau just to gamble,” Haggard explained. “But the purpose of visiting Macau is changing now. It’s becoming more of a popular family-type destination, what we call a mass market, rather than just a gaming center where most of the revenue is derived from a relatively small number of high rollers. And the mass market is one that will fuel a more sustainable food and beverage industry in the future.”
Haggard added that the U.S. government is urging Macau to bring its import conditions in line with those of Hong Kong, which fully opened to U.S. beef in June of this year. With a growing number of importers and distributors establishing businesses in Macau, a full opening of the market would give the U.S. industry the option of shipping directly into Macau and access for a wider range of products.
In addition to the “Nebraska in Macau” event, USMEF recently hosted training seminars featuring Ryan Farr, a well-known chef and butcher based in San Francisco, which were held at Macau’s Institute of Tourism Studies.
“USMEF has a long-standing history with the Institute, which serves as an excellent training ground for the growing number of young people aspiring to work in Macau’s food and beverage industry,” Haggard said. “Chef Farr provided very educational training sessions, ranging from dish preparation to menu planning to sausage-making.”
Haggard said that with the growing interest Macau’s food industry professionals have shown in the “Nebraska in Macau” event, it may serve as a catalyst for similar training seminars and activities.
“I can definitely see an opportunity to build more educational components around this event in the future, which is a great way to establish brand loyalty and expand the customer base for U.S. beef in Macau,” he said.