A group of leaders from the US agriculture sector took a trip to the Gulfood show in Dubai before moving on to assess the market across the EU, organised by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
The trip proved to be something of an eye-opener for the visitors, made up of delegates from the farming and production sectors within the US. "I was blown away by the choices at retail – the countries present at retail – from Australian beef to Brazilian to Indian," said Kim Brackett, cow/calf and stocker producer from Buhl, Idaho, after the Dubai portion of the trip. Brackett, who also chairs the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, noted that US beef stood out from its competitors based on its quality.
Mark Jagels, USMEF chairman, said the trip showed just how keen competing protein suppliers were to access both the EU and Middle East. He said: "What we saw in both regions was the competitiveness of countries wanting to be in the market.
"In the EU, it’s a value-added market for producers, who want identity-preserved product. In the UAE, as we see in any foreign market, it’s a worldwide game – very competitive – with products from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil... even Pakistani meat. It gives the consumer choices. Australia has put a lot of dollars into this (UAE) market. The competitiveness is unbelievable. We have to make sure we have a presence."
Despite this competition, delegates agreed the opportunity was there to grow US meat exports. Wes Plummer chairman of the Montana Beef Council, said: "Educating the public is a key. I wish any local producers who are hesitant at all about spending checkoff dollars (in export markets) could come to one of these (Gulfood) shows and see how this sells our beef. It’s a true eye-opener."