U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom has just returned from Gulfood, the Middle East region’s largest food trade show held annually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Halstrom notes that Gulfood is an important event for U.S. exporters, because the region has a robust foodservice sector in which a growing number of establishments offer U.S. beef, both in high-end and fast-casual settings. In addition to the UAE, key markets for U.S. beef muscle cuts include Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Egypt is the region’s main destination for U.S. beef variety meat and consistently ranks the largest export market for U.S. beef livers.
At its 2011 peak, U.S. beef exports to Saudi Arabia reached nearly $32 million, but the market closed in 2012 following a BSE case in California. While Saudi Arabia reopened to U.S. beef in 2016, BSE-related product restrictions and documentation requirements have made it difficult for the U.S. industry to fully regain lost market share. Last year exports to Saudi Arabia were $14.3 million – up 30% from 2018 but still well short of the level achieved prior to the market closure. Halstrom says foodservice demand is surging in Saudi Arabia and gaining better market access for U.S. beef is a priority for U.S. trade officials and the U.S. industry.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation (www.USMEF.org) is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.