Building awareness of meat handling and merchandising techniques was the focus of a series of educational programs held recently throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic by USMEF. The seminars were supported with funding from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Beef Checkoff Program.
The Soriana supermarket chain – the second-largest in Mexico with 558 stores nationwide – was the audience for a one-day seminar last month in Guadalajara for meat purchasing managers, supervisors and meat department personnel from the chain’s Western Mexico region. Topics for the session included meat handling and storage, minimizing meat waste, inventory controls, meat characteristics that affect quality, and strategic marketing to improve sales.
“The partnership that USMEF has developed with key retailers is deepened when we can provide meaningful information that helps improve their bottom line,” said Chad Russell, regional director for USMEF-Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. “The quality attributes of U.S. beef are at the core of these presentations to help meat industry professionals understand how high-quality products can help build and maintain their customers’ loyalty.”
The AlSuper supermarket chain, which operates 43 stores in Chihuahua, brought 30 of its purchasing and meat department managers to a similar, one-day seminar conducted with the assistance of a meat marketing professor from the leading Mexican university, Tec de Monterrey.
The City Club chain with its 33 stores throughout the country was targeted with a special “Meat Club” event that focused on “Sales and Merchandising of New Meat Products.” City Club personnel as well as representatives of their top restaurant customers in the Monterrey region were introduced to new U.S. products and provided with samples prepared by an USMEF-sponsored chef.
“The relationship with City Club is a strong one,” said Russell. “As they bring their key restaurant customers’ owners and purchasing directors to an event like this, it gives us an ideal opportunity to introduce new cuts and preparation techniques to help them diversify their menus and expand the presence of U.S. beef.”
Grupo Ramos, an important retail chain in the Dominican Republic, joined USMEF for a one-day program for 17 staff members representing eight supermarkets in Santo Domingo. In addition to background on the quality attributes of U.S. beef, the seminar addressed meat handling and storage, proper defrosting techniques, and uses of different cuts in original recipes to help participants better understand cooking times, seasonings and cooking techniques.
Mexico is the No. 1 volume destination for U.S. beef. Through October, it purchased 166,160 metric tons (269.1 million pounds) of U.S. beef valued at $106.1 million, down 22 percent in volume and 14 percent in value compared to last year.