“You don’t build a business, you build people and then people build the business.”- Zig Ziglar

Building beef demand is a challenge with multiple layers. It is a process, one of which your South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) is heavily engaged in.  The SDBIC believes strongly in putting U.S. beef on the world’s table, and that is accomplished through our membership on the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).  South Dakota holds three seats on the USMEF where directors take active roles in guiding our export markets and keep close tabs on the world stage and its impact on our beef product.

The main mission of the USMEF is to increase the value and profitability of the U.S. beef, pork, and lamb industries by enhancing demand for their products in export markets through a dynamic partnership of all stakeholders.  This article will focus on USMEF’s role in our beef exports which focuses on the following strategic priorities: total carcass utilization, trade support, buyer education and loyalty, market presence, product image, and market access.

Carcass Utilization.

In the United States, when we think beef, we think of steaks, roasts, ground beef, or even a rack of ribs. However, dinner tables look significantly different in other parts of the world. Liver may be the main course in Egypt, tongue in Japan, heart in Peru…or intestine in Mexico or Southeast Asia. They are items rarely found on menus in the United States—variety meat, offal or fancy meat takes many forms. Kidneys, livers, stomachs, tendons, aortas, cheek meat, oxtails and more — these beef items are highly prized for use in international cuisine.  Why does this matter for us here at home? They provide us a market for our variety meats that in turn increases our beef’s value and opens the door for other U.S. beef cuts. Not only are international destinations important for consumption of beef items that aren’t commonly eaten in the U.S., but variety meat often is the first U.S. beef tasted by consumers in many countries.  Thus, the reason for targeting buyers in export markets.  This is done through the fostering of relationships.

Relationship building and developing trust in foreign markets is a continuous process.  The USMEF is on the ground in these markets utilizing grassroots efforts of engagement.  Why is this important?  There are multiple things for these professionals to consider as they work abroad in building trade support, buyer education, and loyalty.  They must consider cultures, environments, governments, and consumer needs and the best way to do this is to have people on the ground; living and raising their families in the countries they represent. Through this understanding they are able to engage with influencers, government officials, and consumers guaranteeing market access and increase market presence with a positive beef image.  This allows for collaboration with industry partners to secure meaningful, sustained access to new and existing markets.

What does the big picture look like for beef producers? USMEF statistics during the first three quarters of 2016, October beef export volume was 105,938 metric ton (mt), up 12 percent from a year ago, while export value climbed 10 percent to $559.5 million. For January through October, export volume was up 9 percent from a year ago, at 954,868 mt, while value was down 3 percent to $5.1 billion.  Beef muscle cut exports were especially strong in October at 75,903 mt- the largest volume in two years.  October beef exports were highlighted by a record performance in Taiwan, where volume was up 90 percent from a year ago.  Volume increased by 40 percent in Japan during October and the January to October exports were up 21 percent.  Japan’s October imports of chilled U.S. beef exceeded chilled imports from Australia for the second consecutive month. Export value to Korea is on pace to exceed the 2014 record of $847.4 million and with a strong finish could approach the $1 billion mark in 2016.  Opportunity markets have also been identified in Indonesia, South America, Kazakhstan, and South Africa. These are just a few of the markets represented by USMEF. We will know final 2016 numbers when the 4th quarter results are released. For more information on our beef exports visit www.usmef.org.

“Without these vital export markets influencing our beef’s value, our producers would lose $18 per hundred weight on live steers.  This would be approximately $252 on a 1400-pound steer,” said Wayne Tupper, South Dakota Beef Industry Council president and USMEF representative.

As we consider that one in every three pounds of additional U.S. beef produced over the next 10 years will be exported, foreign marketing will continue to play a major role in our beef industry. The SDBIC will continue to ensure that the producer’s voice is heard as it works with the USMEF to establish our beef markets abroad.

Have other questions? We want to hear from you. “Beyond the Plate” articles are designed to address your questions, share South Dakota checkoff stories, and highlight industry impacts. For more information on the SDBIC and the beef checkoff contact Suzy Geppert, Executive Director, SDBIC at sgeppert@sdbeef.org. For national program efforts visit www.beefboard.org.