Teams of meat processors from China, Japan, South Korea, Central America, South America and the Caribbean were updated on technological advances and processing trends and educated on the advantages of utilizing high-quality U.S. raw materials at the second annual USMEF Global Processing Seminar at the University of Wisconsin (UW). Funding support was provided by the Pork Checkoff and the Beef Checkoff Program.
Some participants built on the knowledge gained at the seminar by visiting farms and packing plants in the Midwest to gain a better understanding of U.S. beef and pork production.
The seminar opened with a discussion about raw material quality and product innovation. Dr. Jeff Sindelar, UW state meat extension specialist, and Dr. Andrew Milkowski, UW meat science adjunct professor, conducted product development demonstrations at the UW Meat Laboratory, showcasing new casing technology being utilized in the U.S. market.
To compare methods used in different markets, representatives from some of USMEF’s international offices – Lorenzo Elizalde (Mexico), Alex Choi (Korea) and Liz Wunderlich (Caribbean) – formed a panel to talk about further processing trends in their respective regions.
The second day of the seminar focused on process management strategies, such as freezing and defrosting, cost reduction and quality control plan development.
“Our goal is to not only teach the processing companies the importance of using U.S. raw materials but also help them integrate improved management strategies into their current processes, which will help improve their finished product quality,” explained Sindelar.
The seminar concluded with discussions on product trends, including flavors and packaging, and attendees had an opportunity to sample a wide range of processed beef and pork products that are popular in the United States.
Like last year’s inaugural Global Processing Seminar, feedback from participants was very positive. USMEF plans to continue the seminar in 2017. Bringing processors from the around the world to one place for educational sessions supplements USMEF’s activities promoting the use of U.S. raw materials for further processing, said Travis Arp, USMEF director of market access and export services.
“The seminar provides an opportunity for foreign processors to learn more about why using high-quality U.S. raw materials in their products will benefit their company,” he added. “Many participants have remarked on how valuable this information will be to their companies and will certainly play into their raw material purchasing decisions.”
The Western Hemisphere team, for example, traveled to Marshalltown, Iowa, to tour the JBS pork plant before moving on to Iowa Premium Beef in Tama, Iowa. The team — made up of processors from the Caribbean, South America and Central America — continued its educational tour at a feedlot in Marion, Iowa, operated by Joe Meythaler.
Next stop was the Horning Farm, a cow-calf operation near Marion, where the Linn County Cattlemen hosted an on-farm dinner.
“It was a great opportunity to meet with people from around the world who are, or potentially could be, our customers,” said Neil Horning, who spoke to the team about his family’s operation. “As American farmers and ranchers, we like to say we feed the world. It’s great to be able to share details on how we produce the food, from beginning to end.”
The team wrapped up its tour at Pine Ridge Farms, a pork processor in Des Moines.
“We wanted our team members to get a good look at beef and pork production practices in the United States so they will be able to take more information back home, in addition to the things they learned at the processing seminar,” said Wunderlich. “Speaking with members of our team at the end of the trip, it was obvious they came away with great information they can apply to their everyday processes. The great thing about this seminar is that there was something to be gained for every processor in attendance, regardless of the size of their operation.”