Global beef, pork buyers compete at SIAL

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER – In late October, SIAL 2010 attracted meat buyers from all corners of the globe to Paris. Approximately 150,000 visitors from almost 200 countries attended the event. With support from the Pork Checkoff and Beef Checkoff Programs and the USDA Market Access Program, the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) organized the US Meat & Poultry Pavilion in conjunction with the US Poultry and Egg Export Council. The US delegation at SIAL 2010 included Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.

Export activity to the EU under the 20,000 metric-ton quota (which will increase to 45,000 metric tons over the next three years) has been very strong, helping boost US beef exports to Europe by 60% to 70% this year. At present, the bulk of the quota’s import licenses are being used for US beef. However, Seng said Australia has gained approval for use of the quota and has been exporting small volumes.

“It’s a worldwide show,” Seng said. “There’s a lot of interest exuded by the Middle East, the Europeans and of course the Russians and Central Asia to come to the show. It’s a very eclectic show because you can see the products of all of our major competitors. The countries have their booths, stands and exhibitions there...it’s very competitive. But what we do within a weeks time is interface with major buyers at foodservice, retail and processors at that show. So, it’s really coming together and it happens once a year in Paris and then the next year it’s in Germany. But it’s a very good opportunity for us to interface with these people to reassure the buyers of our commitment to them and to their markets. And it’s an opportunity to see what our worthy competitors are doing.”

For just over one year, US beef has had duty-free access into the European Union. Seng said this has created many outstanding new opportunities in Europe, and buyers at the event expressed a great deal of interest in US beef. He notes, however, that the high-quality beef market in Europe is fiercely competitive.

“Obviously, the quota is going to increase and that is going to be very interesting for our suppliers because we want to do more as far as providing product into that market,” Seng said. “I just returned from a trip to South America and I can assure you that the South Americans, Australians and a lot of other countries are looking at that market as well. So, I think one of the key challenges for USMEF is to make sure that the lion’s share of that market is definitely filled with US product and that’s one of the challenges we have right now before us.”
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