Focusing on high-quality and alternative cuts of U.S. beef, USMEF conducted a seminar and tasting for hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) professionals in Georgia. Funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, the educational event attracted restaurateurs, chefs, meat buyers, bloggers and journalists to the Meat Loaf steakhouse in Gudauri, a ski resort city near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. USMEF is a subcontractor of the Beef Checkoff.
“The hospitality industry in Georgia is growing rapidly due to tourism really taking off, and more people are including dining out as part of their vacations in the area,” said Galina Kochubeeva, USMEF representative in the region. “People from neighboring countries like Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Kazakhstan, as well as from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, are enjoying the mountains – and the food the resorts, restaurants and hotels have to offer.”
Kochubeeva said the Redco Corporation, which owns restaurants in major tourist centers around Georgia, partnered with USMEF for the seminar to increase consumer interest in U.S. beef. More than 30 HRI sector representatives attended.
She also noted that Georgii Kharazishvili, the top chef at Meat Loaf, formerly worked at Steakhouse Oval, a restaurant in Tbilisi well-known for serving U.S. beef steaks from Nebraska. Kharazishvili explained U.S. beef ribeye, New York strip, top sirloin butt cap, flank and short ribs at the USMEF seminar.
The quality of American products is appreciated, Kochubeeva added, but pricing has kept importers at bay.
“U.S. beef is in demand in Georgia, but unfortunately the market is quite price-sensitive,” she explained. “The final cost for U.S. beef after customs clearance is about 40% higher than imports from regional exporters and from South America, which is why it is important to familiarize potential customers with alternative cuts.”
The seminar in Gudauri attracted a lot of attention in the media and on culinary websites. The event was highlighted in OK Magazine, a publication popular with high-end consumers.