An ambitious project aimed at improving awareness of U.S. beef in the European Union was successfully implemented this summer by USMEF, which partnered with distributors to conduct nine U.S. Beef Roadshow events over the course of nine days in five different countries. Funded by the Beef Checkoff Program and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), the Road Show was anchored by educational U.S. beef master classes in Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Poland.
USMEF is a subcontractor of the Beef Checkoff.
A video of Chef John Cadieux and participants in the U.S. Beef Roadshow in the EU talking about U.S. beef can be seen here.
“The idea was to team up with U.S. beef distributors across Europe and organize training sessions for their clients to help them learn more about U.S. beef and the types of cuts available to them,” said Yuri Barutkin, USMEF representative in the EU. “The master classes were the main events of the Road Show, and they were targeted exclusively at professionals who either already use U.S. beef in their businesses or plan to use it in the future.”
John Cadieux, a prominent international chef who has worked extensively with U.S. beef during his career, was designated as the U.S. beef ambassador during what Barutkin described as a “mobile classroom” project.
“Chef Cadieux not only brings with him the great knowledge of U.S. beef and its use in professional kitchens, but also his experience working with U.S. beef globally — from the United Kingdom to Canada, Switzerland, Thailand and beyond,” said Barutkin. “The classes also utilized USMEF-trained regional beef ambassadors in each country visited, with an overall goal of providing insights into U.S. beef and sharing information about its availability.”
The master classes were custom-built for each stop, reflecting the types of cuts used by foodservice and retail clients and the level of knowledge of U.S. beef in each location.
“None of the master classes were the same – for example, in countries where U.S. beef is in the developmental stage, the classes were about the versatility of cuts available, recipes and advice for working with U.S. beef,” said Barutkin. “In those locations we offered hands-on sessions where participants were given the opportunity to cook the meat themselves.”
In countries where U.S. beef is well-established, the focus was on the story behind U.S. beef – its quality, how it is produced, and what makes its special.
The Road Show master classes were mostly single events focused on specific clients. But in the Czech Republic and Lithuania, a series of regional master classes was conducted by U.S. beef distributors in their respective regions.
In all, more than 250 chefs and other foodservice professionals participated in the nine master classes, with another 300 attending the regional master classes in the Czech Republic.
Barutkin noted that officials and staff from Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) offices in several of the countries visited by the U.S. Beef Road Show pitched in to assist USMEF with the initiative.
“USMEF had great support from FAS and we always value and appreciate the local knowledge of FAS staff and their presence in the market, along with their drive to highlight U.S. beef,” said Barutkin. “They contributed to the positive atmosphere at our events and that’s a big part of getting more customers to engage with U.S. beef.”