A top 10 market for U.S. beef exports, Hong Kong’s promotions attract suppliers, importers, distributors, chefs and foodservice professionals. Two recent events – the HOFEX food exhibition and the United Tastes of America Asian Chef Challenge – also attracted a strong showing of senior U.S. government officials. USMEF’s participation in these events was supported by the USDA Market Access Program and the Beef Checkoff Program.
HOFEX is held biennially at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and attracts about 35,000 attendees over four days. USMEF was one of 1,800 exhibitors from 48 participating countries. One of the many visitors to USMEF’s “American Meat House” booth was U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez.
An architect of the United States’ National Export Initiative (NEI), Sanchez was briefed by USMEF about the $339.5 million in U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong in 2012. Potential for further expansion was enhanced earlier this year when access was granted for many bone-in U.S. beef cuts and boneless cuts from cattle of any age. USMEF and participating U.S. beef exporters at HOFEX, including Brandt Beef, Harris Ranch and the American Foods Group (AFG), told Sanchez that beef access to China would mean hundreds of millions of dollars in additional beef exports and job growth in the U.S. industry.
U.S. companies exhibiting with USMEF at HOFEX reported solid feedback from show buyers. U.S. bone-in beef products were displayed for the first time in more than a decade as a result of the market access expansion. U.S. export statistics show that $2.5 million of bone-in beef products were exported to Hong Kong through the end of March, but USMEF expects larger, steadier volumes of bone-in products to ramp up in coming months. Total U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong in the first quarter were up 106 percent in volume to 22,217 metric tons (49 million pounds) and 93 percent in value to $123.4 million. According to Hong Kong’s beef import data, the U.S. was its second-largest supplier following Brazil.
Earlier this spring, the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Hong Kong in conjunction with USMEF and several U.S. agricultural trade associations organized the United Tastes of America Asian Chef Challenge. Held at the Hospitality Industry Training Centre, the event attracted 16 competing chef teams representing some of the best hotels and restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau. The competition produced three Gold Award, five Silver Award, and six Bronze Award winners.
“The chefs’ dishes were really spiced up through the use of quality ingredients from the United States,” said ATO Director Erich Kuss, “They were creative, vibrant, healthy and inspiring – delivering a tasting experience you would expect from a fine dining restaurant.”
Results of the competition were announced April 23 when USMEF hosted an awards banquet at Hong Kong’s American Club. The Derby Restaurant at the Hong Kong Jockey Club was the overall winner and qualified to compete against other regional champions from Taipei, Shanghai and Tokyo in the finals held at the Food Taipei 2013 trade show in June. Other Gold Award recipients were the Four Seasons Hotel and the Sha Tin Racecourse Restaurant, which is also managed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.