Iowa beef producers explore beef market in China and Japan
AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Beef Industry Council participated in an Iowa Meat Trade Mission Trip to meat retailers and packers in China and Japan Nov. 14-17. IBIC representatives were Jenni Peters, beef producer from Bellevue, and Chris Freland,...
AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Beef Industry Council participated in an Iowa Meat Trade Mission Trip to meat retailers and packers in China and Japan Nov. 14-17. IBIC representatives were Jenni Peters, beef producer from Bellevue, and Chris Freland, executive director of IBIC.
The first part of the trip was spent exploring trade opportunities in China. While China has not yet reopened to U.S. beef, retailers and importers expressed an interest and a need for the market to open. "There is a strong desire for U.S. beef in China; we anxiously await the opening of the market for U.S. beef," was the consistent message delivered by meat traders, distributors and retailers during the trade mission.
Meetings were conducted with the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service and Agricultural Trade Office to learn about the potential for U.S. beef exports.
"They presented an overview of the China market and discussed current policy issues between the two countries that have caused China's borders to remain closed to American beef," said Peters.
The three pillars for U.S. and China relations were listed as food safety, food security and traceability. A continued concern is the use of beta-agonists such as ractopamine. Internally, China is working toward a less fragmented food safety structure with increased regulations for food producers and manufacturers.
One of the stops while in China included Guangzhou, also known as Canton, the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in South China. The city serves as an important national transportation hub and trading port as it lies on the Pearl River. It is considered one of the most prosperous cities in China.
"On our travels around Guangzhou, we saw thousands of high-rise buildings for housing being built," said Freland. "They are continuously expanding and significantly reducing the amount of land available for farming."
Currently, China is consuming domestic, grass-fed beef along with imported beef from Australia and Brazil. The demand for U.S. beef will be centered in chain restaurants, fine dining, and retail. There is also a market in the Chinese culture for variety meats including beef offal.
"The demand is there," Freland said. "The domestic cattle supply is declining, and the outlook for U.S. beef exports looks good."
The second leg of the trip explored Tokyo, Japan, the number one export market for U.S. beef.
"We visited with executives of the four major Japanese meat companies and across the board they all look forward to increasing sales with U.S. beef suppliers," said Peters. "They were especially interested in Iowa agriculture and cattle production, particularly putting a name, face and family with the beef we produce in Iowa and export to their country. This adds a level of safety, security and comfort."
"The Japanese market has been valuable for U.S. beef," added Freland. "They enjoy the high quality beef that the U.S. produces. The Japanese government is encouraging the consumption of more meat as a way to increase protein in their daily diet."
Both Peters and Freland were impressed with the staff of the United States Department of Agriculture foreign agriculture offices and the United Stated Meat Export Federation which are working hard to create opportunities for beef and pork exports. The beef checkoff contributes funds from both the national and state level to USMEF. In addition, U.S. beef exports added $280 to the value of a fed steer in September.
The Iowa trade team was coordinated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and included Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, and representatives of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Partial funding for the trade mission was provided by the $1-per-head beef checkoff.