Marketing the whole cow: U.S. beef in Asia
Carrie Veselka, Progressive Cattle
08 July 2019
A group of U.S. beef producers recently had the opportunity to take a seven-day trip to Japan and Taiwan to learn about the meat markets in Asia and see what the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has been doing to promote U.S. beef.
The group, comprised of members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), the state beef councils of Idaho, Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska and Minnesota, along with other beef industry representatives, participated in several marketing events aimed at giving a name and a face to U.S. beef in Asia and teaching U.S. producers a bit more about the meat markets in Asia.
Jared Brackett, vice chair of the CBB, was part of the producer group. He says the group not only interacted with consumers and visited several grocery stores and restaurants, but also met with many influential food bloggers and chefs to learn how U.S. beef is prepared in Taiwan and Japan and to share how beef is cooked in the U.S. – like grilling a steak.
One event in Japan was devoted to showing how to grill steak “American-style.” “In Japan, they don’t have the opportunity to barbecue in their backyard like we do here, so they’re basically setting up barbecue clubs,” says Brackett. “You can rent a grill for two hours and barbecue with your family.” He says at the event, the roughly 60 consumers that attended were divided into groups and paired with a producer. “We barbecued with them and showed them how we barbecue in the U.S. and basically just enjoyed a meal with them. It was a great experience.”
Utilizing the whole cow
While touring Taiwan and Japan, the group learned about the different cuts of meat and beef products that are in demand in those markets compared to the U.S. “When we go to a Costco here in the U.S., in the meat case, it’s basically T-bones and rib-eyes, some roasts and ground beef,” Brackett explains. “When you go to the meat case in, say, Taiwan, it’s the same meat case, but it’s all very thinly sliced meat. They’re not selling lots of rib-eyes and T-bones; they’re selling thinly sliced meat that they use their hotpots or their ecogrills to cook, so it’s a different product. It reinforces the work that the USMEF has been doing to develop a taste for our meat over there, but also, we’re utilizing the whole cow.”
Brackett uses the example of cow tongue. Cow tongue runs for $6 a pound in Japan, where it is in high demand, while only bringing in a fraction of that on the U.S. market, where demand is much lower. “That puts a lot more dollars back in our producers’ pockets by basically marketing the whole animal,” he says. “On average, that adds $320 per head to fed cattle. Last year we did $8.3 billion worth of exports, so it’s a big deal what these companies like the USMEF are doing for us.”
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