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USMEF promotes beef in Middle East

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A national organization seeks new market opportunities for United States beef products.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) showcased U.S. beef products at Gulfood. Gulfood, one of the largest food shows in the world, hosted 120 national displays, including “Taste of the USA,” and welcomed over 100,000 attendees.

Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and chief executive officer, says his organization distributed information and answered questions surrounding U.S. beef products at Gulfood. Halstrom adds USMEF also met with interested buyers and traders.

“There’s a good cross-section of Middle East customers, but it’s also a global show. We are seeing continued growth in some of the mainstay countries, all the way from Kuwait and Bahrain to the Emirates and Qatar,” Halstrom said.

Halstrom talks in-depth about Qatar’s unique market for U.S. beef exports.

“Qatar is an interesting one,” Halstrom said. “Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022, so we’re starting to see key trade there ramping up prior to that (event). The number of hotel rooms is expected to double because of the World Cup. This is definitely a food service opportunity for U.S. beef.”

USMEF reports food production continues to the rise across the Middle East, offering its  countries a lucrative market. Importers, however, actively seek out suppliers. Halstrom says buyers from Saudi Arabia continue to demonstrate a preference for American beef. The country previously closed its doors to U.S. beef exports following a case of BSE, or Mad Cow Disease.

“Saudi Arabia reopened about a year and a half ago, but only recently have we saw more significant volumes of beef go into Saudi. Quite a few Saudi customers were at Gulfood, including Alpha, one of the largest food service companies. It was encouraging to see,” Halstrom said.

Halstrom concludes by mentioning the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) will soon host a ceremony for United States beef in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.