A small group of key distributors, hotels and restaurants in Mexico and the Dominican Republic were the object of a focused three-day training program recently to raise awareness of a broader array of center-of-plate menu options containing U.S. beef and veal.
“Our strategy in this program is to strengthen the relationship between USMEF and suppliers on the U.S. side with targeted distributors, restaurants and hotels,” said Julieta Hernández, foodservice manager for USMEF in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. “While these accounts already are familiar with U.S. beef, they do not consistently utilize a broad range of cuts.”
USMEF partnered with Texas A&M University, with funding provided by the Beef Checkoff Program, to develop the three-day educational program designed to familiarize the participants with a broader array of cut options. The program also included a tour of several U.S. beef processors who helped reinforce the message that high-quality U.S. beef products are produced with a commitment to product quality and safety.
The early returns from the program are very positive, according to Hernández.
A distributor in the Dominican Republic expanded its previous menu of four beef cuts to include the coulotte, top butt, flap meat and cowboy steak. And one international steakhouse chain with a presence in the Dominican Republic has not only expanded its usage of U.S. beef tenderloins and New York strip steaks with new menu options, but later added the flat iron steak to its menu.
“Educational programs like this give distributors and food service operators the confidence they need to expand their repertoire of U.S. beef offerings,” said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. “Being able to see, touch and taste these new cuts can be an eye-opener, and the information USMEF provides helps program participants understand the many options that can be utilized to offer a full range of affordable menu choices to fit every budget.”
Mexico is the No. 2 volume and value market for U.S. beef. Through August of 2013, Mexico has imported 130,897 metric tons (288.6 million pounds) of U.S. beef valued at $559.7 million.