Outreach to Regional Supermarket Chains Aimed at Building Demand for U.S. Beef in Northern Mexico
In Mexico, the largest destination for U.S. beef exports, most of USMEF’s retail demand-building activities are conducted with large, national retailers and distributors in major metropolitan areas. But as the U.S. beef industry looks to further expand its presence in Mexico, the Beef Checkoff Program recently authorized USMEF to launch a new outreach campaign with regional supermarket chains located primarily in northern Mexico.These supermarket chains are of significant size – ranging from 34 to 170 store locations – so they constitute an important target market for the U.S. beef industry. Chains participating in the program include Casa Ley (170 stores), Calimax (72 stores), Sante Fe (60 stores), HEB (39 stores) and Super del Norte (34 stores). “The main goal of the initiative is to reach out to these regional supermarket chains so we can lay the groundwork for further penetration of the retail beef market in Mexico and expand our base of potential customers for U.S. beef,” said Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. Through this new initiative, USMEF is fostering new customers for U.S. beef by better understanding each supermarket’s business model, challenges and requirements with respect to their meat departments and related operations. By developing commercial relationships with these clients, assessing their needs, and offering personalized technical and meat product solutions, USMEF is building the foundation for future growth for the U.S. beef industry in Mexico. As a first step in the market development process, USMEF met with key meat department personnel from each chain, visited stores, collected feedback, and made a joint assessment of each company’s needs. With this information in hand, USMEF worked with Tech Monterrey (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education) to develop seminars and training sessions specifically designed to address the requirements of each chain with the view to further improve overall product handling, meat department operations, merchandising, and meat case profitability. In addition, USMEF presented information about the positive attributes of U.S. beef, the U.S. production system, and food safety and grading programs, with a focus on how U.S. beef can be a key element in meeting the needs of the chains’ customers and helping to improve the performance of their meat departments. USMEF-Mexico Retail Manager Javier Garcia conducted several on-site visits with meat department managers, meat buyers and purchasing department directors from each chain to get a better understanding of their product needs and offer recommendations that will help them grow sales and expand their offerings. Garcia offered operational analysis on issues ranging from storage to in-store processing to meat case display, as well as a commercial analysis that will help these retailers better service the needs of their customers’ ever-changing tastes and buying habits. Through the first half of 2011, U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports to Mexico totaled 126,309 metric tons (nearly 280 million pounds) valued at $475 million – an increase of 8 percent in volume and 25 percent in value over the same period in 2010.