U.S. beef tenderloin, striploin, patties and sausages were sampled by thousands of shoppers at supermarkets in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a USMEF retail promotion designed to raise awareness and grow demand in two promising markets.
Funded by the Texas Beef Council (TBC), the “TBC Retail Show” included cooking demonstrations and U.S. beef educational sessions in the meat departments of four major retailers.
In all, the effort covered 26 days at Park n Shop and Lulu stores in the UAE, along with The Butcher’s Block and The Sultan Center locations in Oman.
Live cooking demonstrations led by Robin Gomez, executive chef of the Raviz Center Point hotel group, highlighted the attributes and versatility of numerous U.S. beef cuts in the UAE.
In Oman, USMEF also educated shoppers about the quality of U.S. beef and the safety standards of U.S. beef production.
“The TBC Retail Show was the result of a partnership with retailers and importers who joined us in the effort to increase interest in U.S. beef,” said Eliane Elia, USMEF representative in the region. “Over the course of the promotion, consumers expressed appreciation for the U.S. beef cuts and the tasting samples. The retailers were also appreciative of USMEF’s support.”
Retailers participating in the event have a significant presence in the Middle East:
Lulu Hypermarket – Lulu operates more than 175 stores in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The company offers consumers a wide range of products from all over the world.
Park n Shop – The supermarket chain sells a large selection of goods sourced from numerous countries. It is considered a leader among chain supermarkets and department stores.
The Sultan Center – A leading regional business organization with headquarters in Kuwait, The Sultan Center’s business portfolio includes retail and restaurants. The first retail store opened in Shuwaikh in 1981. Currently the company operates 59 stores in Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Bahrain.
The Butcher’s Block – A well-known meat shop in Oman, the business is operated by Al Rabha United, LLC. It sells beef, lamb and chicken sourced from the U.S., Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and France.
Elia noted that all retailers participating in the TBC Retail Show reported significant increases in sales of U.S. beef during the first week following the promotion. The Sultan Center’s sales went up 60%, followed by Park N Shop (55%), The Butcher’s Block (55%) and Lulu Hypermarkets (52%). Retailers in the region have regained footing after some challenging times due to fluctuating oil prices and other factors, Elia added.
“The UAE in particular has evolved to become a retail hub and an attractive retail investment worldwide, while Oman’s retail sector is forecast to rise steadily over the next few years,” she said. “Large operators are expanding across the region amid rising competition from smaller grocery stores and growing demand for convenience stores. The adoption of online retailing and e-commerce is also gaining traction, with several prominent retailers offering online services to consumers. This is creating opportunity for food retailers and, as a result, the U.S. beef industry.”
The UAE is the leading destination in the Middle East region for U.S. beef muscle cuts. Exports last year (through November) totaled 5,120 metric tons valued at $54.4 million, steady with same period in 2018. Muscle cut exports to Oman increased 54% to 180 metric tons, valued at $1.8 million (up 27%).