USMEF teamed with a major international food wholesaler to showcase U.S. beef for dozens of chefs and foodservice buyers in Croatia, a country of 4.3 million people located in southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea. The U.S. beef promotion, which was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, took place at the Mano restaurant in Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb, with funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program.
Julieta Valls Noyes, U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, USMEF Representative Felipe Macías and Marc Carena, CEO of Metro Cash and Carry Croatia, welcomed guests for a firsthand look at the U.S. beef products available in the market. Well-known European butcher and chef Jack O’Shea demonstrated different ways to cook U.S. beef fillet, striploin, ribeye and sirloin, pairing the dishes with Croatian wines. O’Shea’s two-month aged U.S. beef ribeye with sprouted grain porridge, wild asparagus and oatmeal jus was very well-received.
During the meal, Noyes took to social media and tweeted to her followers, “Yum! Great event tonight promoting #USBeef with Metro Cash and Carry at Mano. Delicious and now available in Croatia!”
Macias said event host Metro Cash & Carry – a company with a client list that includes hundreds of hotels, restaurants, institutions, caterers and food retailers across Europe and Asia – has been a consistent purchaser of U.S. beef.
“USMEF has built a solid relationship with Metro Cash & Carry and partnered with it in seminars and promotional events in different European markets,” said Macias. “This company is very confident about the potential for U.S. beef in Croatia. In fact, some of the guests who attended the event at Mano have already showed great interest in purchasing U.S. beef.”
Croatia is the newest member state of the European Union, having officially joined the EU on July 1, 2013. According to USDA trade figures, Croatia’s beef imports have shown steady growth in recent years – more than doubling in value from $30.4 million in 2010 to $66.1 million in 2014.
“Currently, the United States exports negligible amounts of beef to Croatia, but the potential is there to expand exports of beef from non-hormone treated cattle to Croatian consumers willing to pay a premium,” explained John Brook, USMEF regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East. “Although Croatia only has 4 million inhabitants, it has a solid middle class. With economic recovery the Croatian middle class will grow, and consumption of high-quality meat will grow along with it.”
Brook said Croatian importers source many U.S. products from other EU member states to reduce the costs and challenges of smaller shipments. In addition, many of the larger supermarket chains that operate in Croatia have central warehousing in other EU member states.
“Croatia imports most of its beef — including U.S. beef — through the Netherlands and exports $33 million of beef to its neighbors, which also could be a reason to explore the Croatian market,” he added.