More Guatemalan Consumers Think Of U.S. Beef For Dinner

US - U.S. beef is on the mind of more Guatemalan consumers as an affordable, high quality protein source, thanks to a multi-faceted U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) campaign aimed to increase consumer awareness and use of value cuts in upper-end restaurants.
calendar icon 14 November 2006
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USMEF promoted the top blade, petit tender and Texas fillet beef value cuts since the cuts are more competitive in price while still retaining the high quality attributes U.S. beef is known for worldwide.

“Guatemala is a market where prices are the driving force, so we wanted to offer more affordable cuts increased opportunities to compete with less expensive regional suppliers in the area and make the products more attractive to consumers,” said Ricardo Vernazza-Paganini, USMEF director of the Central and South America region.

After a three-month long consumer communication strategy ended the campaign, results show a 19 percent increase among consumers who name the United States when asked to name the country that comes to mind when thinking about beef.

Nutrition and quality ranked highest as positive U.S. beef attributes, and affordability increased by 5 percent. Approximately 12 percent more consumers said they pay attention to the country of origin when purchasing beef.

A media conference held June 8 in Guatemala City kicked off the consumer campaign. USDA Agricultural Counselor for Guatemala Steve Huete, Vernazza-Paganini and representatives from an importing company participating in the USMEF campaign were interviewed by local media.

Additional media coverage included television advertisements featuring a popular cooking show chef talking about U.S. beef cuts and dishes and news releases on activities issued to the media on a weekly basis to continue generating excitement.

Billboards, materials such as posters and menu inserts and U.S. beef samplings in participating restaurants further helped draw consumer attention to U.S. beef items.

Before the consumer campaign, USMEF identified a business partner in Guatemala that imports and sells a sizable amount of U.S. beef to participate in and support the campaign.

“Instead of working with several competing companies, we decided to work with just one importer,” said Vernazza-Paganini. “This helped us create a strong sense of project ownership with the company, which now has great deal of loyalty to our efforts in expanding U.S. beef in Guatemala.”

A two-day seminar for 60 sales, marketing and production workers of the company provided education on U.S. beef attributes, hands-on cutting methods used to create the cuts and cooking ideas for each cut.

USMEF then worked with the importer to identify 20 companies that operate casual dining restaurants attracting middle and upper income consumers. Using U.S. beef value cuts creates more affordable, yet still desirable, dishes for a wider range of consumers.

Antonio Vidal, an executive chef at Ranch 616 in Austin, Tex., who has worked in the Central American region before, visited 20 Guatemalan restaurants training chefs how to prepare underutilized U.S. beef cuts into flavorful dishes. Vidal demonstrated many recipes the chefs could taste and ensured the chefs felt comfortable cooking with U.S. beef.

“Learning how to cook with U.S. beef was an important step since restaurant chefs play a key role in creating dishes consumers will enjoy,” said Vernazza-Paganini. “Having a master chef demonstrate techniques and answer questions gave the chefs a head start in creating U.S. beef dishes that appealed to consumers’ taste and pocketbook.”

Through September, U.S. beef muscle meat exported to Guatemala increased 19 percent in volume to 429 metric tons valued at $1.5 million compared to the same period last year.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, lamb, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs. News Desk

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