DENVER – Early in 2010, beef trade with Taiwan began under a cloud of controversy stemming from a new trade protocol that allowed customers in Taiwan to import bone-in US beef cuts for the first time since 2003. This proved to be only a minor and temporary setback, however, as consumer demand recovered quickly and hasn’t looked back.

With one entire quarter of export results still to be reported, Taiwan has already shattered its single year US beef import value record with nearly $150 million in purchases. The previous record was $141.1 million, set last year.

“Taiwan beef imports is probably going to hit 100,000 tons this year,” said Joel Haggard, US Meat Export Federation senior vice president. “The US has always been a strong player there. The economy is going very strong. We have managed to successfully re-launch US beef despite the fact that Taiwan had this mini-Korea reaction to the reintroduction of beef there. We had some political issues because US beef was used as a platform by one political party to attack the other. But we have actually overtaken Taiwan in terms of the value so this recovery in Taiwan has played out much more rapidly than it has in Japan or Korea.”

Haggard sees further success in Taiwan in 2011 as the US continues to market a wider range of cuts.

“The strategy in Taiwan this coming year will to expand this bone-in introduction,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll get clear access on some of our offal items, including skirts and hangers. These will be pretty big-ticket items for us. So our strategy in Taiwan will be work on merchandising some of these new items. We position ourselves in Taiwan as part of he community. So our strategy in Taiwan is to try to be positioned not as an American trade association promoting our products there, but as part of the community, so we do a lot of PR there.”