USMEF Adds Depth to Middle East Team

Seeing continuing export growth to the Middle East, particularly for U.S. beef products, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is moving to bolster its presence and resources in the region by adding a second representative to cover the geographically and socially diverse area.

The all-encompassing Middle East region ranges from Africa to Kazakhstan and includes mainstay markets of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Representatives in the region report to John Brook, USMEF’s Brussels-based regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

“There is great opportunity for U.S. red meat exports in West Asia and Africa, and we want to be best positioned to capitalize as the economies in this region grow and the expanding middle class and tourism business seek high-quality red meat to fulfill their needs,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF. “Educating red meat buyers and consumers in these new and growing markets is a priority for us to maintain the pace of beef and pork exports.”

Current Middle East representative AMFI (Arab Marketing & Finance, Inc.), based in Beirut, Lebanon, will continue to represent USMEF in areas including the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and the Commonwealth of Independent States (including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan).

Additional support in the region will come from Agri Marketing International based in Cairo, Egypt, which will cover areas including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

The Middle East was the No. 3 market for U.S. beef exports by volume in 2011, buying 175,181 metric tons (386.2 million pounds) of product valued at $355.9 million, increases of 30 percent in volume and 36 percent in value over 2010. Through the first five months of 2012, the volume of beef exports to the region is down 7 percent but export value is up 10 percent.

While the Middle East is primarily a beef market, its purchases of U.S. pork rose sharply in 2011: a 204 percent spike in volume (to 1,459 metric tons or 3.2 million pounds) and 91 percent jump in value (to $3.3 million).