USMEF recently participated in two educational outreach events on the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman this November, as part of an effort to educate regional and local veterinarians and producers about the safety and quality of U.S. beef. The meetings were funded through support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).
USMEF Caribbean representative Liz Wunderlich and USMEF Technical Services Manager Cheyenne Dixon attended the Caribbean Veterinary Conference in Grand Cayman, providing a “gate to plate” overview of the U.S. livestock and meat industries. Wunderlich addressed how production practices can impact overall meat quality, while Dixon offered audience members information about how to audit and improve animal welfare practices at the slaughterhouse. The information was well-received by this important group of professionals and opinion leaders.
“Some veterinarians attending the conference serve as chief veterinary officials in their home countries and have a significant role in deciding which products are imported into those countries,” said Wunderlich. “We wanted to demonstrate that the U.S. model of production is the best in the world, and that it is based on sound science and research. It’s important that we educate people in the Caribbean about the safety and quality of U.S. beef, while letting them know that we are here as a resource as they continue to develop their domestic production industries.”
“Attendees said they were impressed with the strict guidelines that are in place in U.S. slaughterhouses,” added Dixon. “We understand that their production practices and needs are quite different than of those in the United States, but we want to serve as a good example of what food animal production can look like.”
At the next event, Wunderlich and Dixon spoke to a meeting of the Cayman Agriculture Department’s farmer-to-retailer marketing program and met with cattle producers to continue the discussion on meat quality.
In addition, the USMEF team met with the largest retailer on the island that carries U.S. beef to review its fabrication and storage facilities and provide guidance on improvements. They also reviewed the meat case setup, pricing and product labeling, and offered counsel on how to address common customer questions about U.S. meat products.
“The U.S. is already a large supplier of beef into the Caribbean,” said Dixon. “Our goal here is to continue to meet the needs of the retail and foodservice sectors while growing demand and gaining access to those countries where it does not currently exist.”
“Events like these are about education and relationship building,” said Wunderlich. “It is extremely important that we get to know people in these markets and let them know that we can serve as a quality resource on issues ranging from animal welfare and production to marketing and menu ideas.”