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South Korean Buyers Visit US Following BSE

03 May 2012

US - Following the announcement of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the US,a group of 14 meat buyers from a major Korean retailer and importer visited the US and met with the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Philip Seng, USMEF President said: “The idea there was to bring in the largest retailer and frankly to have them look at our systems, look at our Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) programmes, take a look at our assurances that we have as far as on the farm as far as safety, etc. Of course they visited feedlots and they also visited packing plants and the idea was to give them the total review, the total exposure to our programmes. This is something we do with checkoff dollars because it’s very important that we keep reinforcing our safety commitment and the message.”

Commenting on how the BSE announcement has affected global trade for beef, Mr Seng said: “In Asia, there’s probably more attention made to what is Japan doing. And I think the fact that Japan came out initially and said that they’re not going to change anything, that they know the U.S. systems, that they know it’s safe, they know they have an export verification program; and so because Japan has also had 36 cases of BSE, they’re quite familiar with BSE – about the difference between classical and a-typical – so a lot of that ground has already been covered in Japan.

"And so when they came out and said we are not going to close the market, we’re going to let things go on as normal and we are also going to continue the process for moving forward beyond 20 months, I think this was the kind of reassurance that these governments need. Because the first step is making sure that the governments in these markets – their health authorities – keep the markets open. And I think the agreements that have been initial between our government and a lot of these governments always stipulated that only if our BSE status was downgraded that then that would be called into question.”

The only market that now has closed their border to US beef is Indonesia. Mr Seng says that maintaining market access is only part of the battle. In key markets, checkoff dollars have been invested to actively engage with industry partners, media contacts and other influential sources in an effort to maintain consumer confidence and dispel any misinformation about the safety or quality of US beef. These activities are critical to maintaining consumer demand and protecting US market share.

Further Reading

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