US Beef Gaining Strength in Asian Markets

The US beef industry is expecting to target Taiwan with a large promotional campaign, following the recent moves by the government to restrict US beef exports, writes TheCattleSite senior editor, Chris Harris.
calendar icon 2 February 2010
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US Meat Export Federation President and CEO Philip Seng.

The move by Taiwan came in an amendment to the country's food sanitation laws that banned all ground beef and offals from the US and any other country that has had a case of BSE.

The new amendment restricted US beef imports to products from cattle under 30 months of age.

The US had negotiated a new protocol with Taiwan in October last year and the US beef industry was voluntarily excluding ground beef and offal from shipments and restricting them to products from cattle under 30 months of age.

Speaking to TheCattleSite during the recent National Cattlemen's Beef Association annual convention in San Antonio, US Meat Export Federation President and CEO Philip Seng said that the move by the Taiwanese legislature was disappointing and was also based on no scientific basis.

"There is an issue with Taiwan. The legislators want to renegotiate the agreement and they want to put in legislation that is bad as far as we are concerned," he said.

He added that the US industry will be maintaining its stance and will be working to reassure consumers and ensure that it retains the confidence of the consumers.

"We will look to put extra dollars into Taiwan," Mr Seng added.

"It has been an important market since it opened in 2005. The amount of exports have been eclipsed every year and in all I am encouraged by the Taiwanese market."

The USMEF figures to October last year show that the value of the Taiwanese market to the US was $114.3 million - the sixth largest in value and six per cent up on the same period and total exports last year are expected to hit record highs.

Countering Image Concerns in South Korea

US beef exports have also experienced difficulties in the South Korean market with consumer concerns about the image of the product.

"We launched the Two Trust campaign highlighting product care and processing care," said Mr Seng.

"Trust is the big thing.

"We have put extra money into the Two Trust campaign and we have done very well in the retail sector."

Mr Seng said that historically South Korea has been a strong market for the US and in 2003 it had hit a 67 per cent market share.

The campaign consists of a series of television, poster and bus advertisements with the theme of trust in the products and portraying a positive image of US beef.

The result is that the amount that is being exported to South Korea is going up reaching 1,500 tonnes a week, Mr Seng said.

He said that total exports to Korea are expected to reach 100,000 tonnes.

Exchange Rates and Competition

One of the major factors that has started to boost US exports in the region has been the effects of the current financial crisis and the currency devaluation.

He said trade had benefitted fro the Yuan getting stronger and the strength of the Australian dollar as the Australian beef industry is the main competitor to the US in South East Asian markets.

"The markets are starting to sort themselves out," Mr Seng said.

"The Asian markets are up by 21 per cent and the Japanese market is up by 25 per cent.

"We are very encouraged by the Asian markets."

He added: "Our prices are lower than others and we want to be competitive on prices."

February 2010
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