Growing momentum for U.S. beef in the European Union was in evidence at the Anuga food trade show, where USMEF promoted U.S. red meat and met with existing and potential customers from several key international markets. Funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Beef Checkoff Program, USMEF’s effort included greeting importers and traders inside the USA Pavilion and sharing information about the availability of U.S. beef, pork and lamb.
A biennial show held in Cologne, Germany, the 2019 edition also provided a look at growing competition for the European market. This year’s event attracted 7,600 exhibitors and more than 170,000 visitors from Europe, Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Australia and Central and South America.
Discussions centered around a new agreement that will allow the U.S. beef industry a larger share of the EU market, the impact of African swine fever (ASF) on global pork supplies and the effects of an ongoing drought in Australia on the red meat trade.
“From our perspective, it was a very active show and a tremendous opportunity to meet with customers and potential customers of U.S. red meat and to share information on activities USMEF has planned around the world in the coming year,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Interest in U.S. beef was especially strong this year because of this summer’s agreement between the U.S. and the EU on the U.S.-specific tariff rate quota (TRQ), which could be a giant boost for the U.S. beef industry. As with any new agreement, there are a lot of questions. We had several good meetings during the show to help answer many of those questions.”
The new agreement still must be approved by the EU Parliament, but that is expected to happen before the end of this year, with implementation in 2020. It will establish an initial, U.S.-specific duty-free TRQ of 18,500 metric tons annually. Over seven years, the TRQ will grow to 35,000 metric tons annually. More details on the agreement are in this press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The timing made the TRQ agreement a popular topic at Anuga.
“We were able to give EU importers updated information on the process and learn from them what their plans and goals are once the new quota is in place,” said Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in the region. “When it gets implemented, we expect to see some new customers from the EU willing to get involved in the U.S. beef business. That’s why it was important to establish contact with importers at Anuga and showcase U.S. beef. There are many other factors that can influence the ability of EU distributors to dive in to new business – exchange rates, availability of supply in the U.S., the European economy – but USMEF is optimistic that improved access conditions will create much better opportunities and the importers will be eager to become involved.”
Halstrom and Barutkin both noted growing interest in U.S. pork among Anuga attendees, especially pork processing companies experiencing supply challenges due to increased amounts of European pork going to China to cover deficits caused by ASF.
“Demand in China has created a backfill situation and as more EU pork moves into the Chinese market, meat processing companies in Europe are beginning to explore additional pork suppliers,” explained Barutkin. “The challenge is that there are only five EU-approved pork plants in the United States. Trade barriers and restrictions remain obstacles for U.S. pork in the EU, but the sense of several people at Anuga was that the current pork supply situation may be a ‘game changer’ that leads to improved access.”
For red meat exporters, the EU and China were not the only markets under the spotlight at the five-day show. Halstrom said drought in Australia was a topic that surfaced over and over. He pointed to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) forecast that Australian beef production will decline by 11% from 2019 to 2020 and exports by 15 percent. On the pork side, rising feed prices caused by the drought squeezed Australian producers and resulted in reduced production and an increase in pork imports this year.
“There was a lot of concern voiced over the supply situation with Australia, especially with some of Australia’s larger customers in Asia,” said Halstrom. “It’s something USMEF has been paying close attention to and it was important to get greater perspective from traders attending Anuga.”