https://cattlebusinessweekly.com/Conten ... a/1/1/9206
U.S. Beef Roadshow event in Guangzhou, China. From left to right: Charles Bennett, U.S. consul general in Guangzhou, Stanley Garbacz, Nebraska agricultural trade representative, and Jerry Wiggs, senior director of export sales for Greater Omaha Packing Company.
An initial and ambitious step toward developing demand for U.S. beef in China was taken this week as the U.S. Beef China Roadshow, a week-long series of events organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), brought exporters and importers together in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. These activities were made possible through support from the Nebraska Beef Council.
The “roadshow” moniker was an appropriate choice, as USMEF staff and 17 member companies began the journey Monday, Sept. 25 with a U.S. beef showcase in Beijing, then traveled to Shanghai for a similar program on Wednesday, Sept 27. By the end of the week, the contingent had moved to Guangzhou, where the roadshow concluded with a U.S. beef overview, trade networking, product sampling and an American-style barbecue reception highlighting alternative cuts. More than 300 Chinese importers – buyers who were selected and screened by USMEF attended each of the three roadshow events.
“We started in the north, moved to central China and finally ended up in the south, allowing U.S. companies to see and experience different regions of the country,” explained Ming Liang, USMEF marketing director in China. “At the same time, Chinese buyers from each stop were able to interact with U.S. exporters. What this roadshow confirmed is that USMEF is in a unique position to facilitate meetings to assist U.S. packers and other exporters, as well as help our partners in the Chinese trade in an effort to get more U.S. beef into the country.”
Each of the three roadshow stops featured member companies exhibiting U.S. beef products. A simple opening ceremony in each location included a brief overview of the current U.S. beef market, along with introductions by company representatives. Each roadshow event was themed with a particular popular local beef dining concept, including hot pot, Korean barbecue and western steakhouse. Cutting demonstrations and tastings were held throughout each event by USMEF’s technical consultant.
“The roadshow idea grew out of the need to introduce American companies to the Chinese market, as well as to provide Chinese distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and chefs an opportunity to handle and taste U.S. beef, with a goal of building on the momentum that started when China reopened to U.S. beef earlier this year,” said Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. “In each of the three cities, there was obvious excitement on both sides, with importers lining up to meet USMEF’s exporter members. We’ve said that developing the China market will take time, but we are very pleased with the reception we received this week. Our members who took part were excited about what they saw and walked away with serious commercial interest.”
“We started U.S. beef sales in August, with the understanding that it will take time to convince our Chinese customers and consumers to move to U.S. beef, and our goal is to let them appreciate the difference between U.S. beef and beef from other countries,” said Peter Cho, purchasing manager for Topping Cuisine International (TCI), a major food importer, distributor, meat processor and restaurant chain operator based in Shanghai. “There is a learning curve, and higher pricing is a challenge. But we feel that as time goes by and people are able to experience U.S. beef’s quality, demand for it will grow.”
Cho added that the success of U.S. beef in China will require a consistent – and persistent – approach.
“I believe as demand expands, the U.S. beef industry will eventually produce more beef for the market. As a result, prices should come down,” Cho said.
U.S. exporters participating in the roadshow varied from well-established players to new companies hoping to capitalize on China’s reopening to U.S. beef.
John Zhong, CEO of Better Protein, Inc., a Des Moines–based operation made up of family farm cooperatives across the Midwest, said his company was able to collect a solid list of contacts at each stop that included not only Chinese importers, but also foodservice and retail professionals.
“Our next step is to go back home to the U.S. and to follow up with our roadshow contacts to learn more about their product needs. “We’ll touch base and start working together to create solutions and strategies for the market and I hope to begin supplying U.S. beef to China soon.”