November 14, 2022


USMEF conference concludes with election of new officers


The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference recently concluded in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the United States, with the election of a new officer team.


Dean Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, is the new USMEF chair.


"USMEF is a very unique organisation where a corn grower from North Dakota, a cattle feeder from Texas and a soybean farmer from Indiana can pull together to market the same product," Meyer said. "I've seen the momentum growing in the way these sectors work together, and my goal is to enhance that even more. Wearing several different hats, I have a broad perspective – and this organisation is my passion."


Meyer became involved with red meat exports through the Iowa Corn Growers Association, where he served as a director and as Iowa Corn's USMEF representative. During his time in the USMEF leadership, Meyer has had several opportunities to visit major export markets and share details of his farming operation with importers, distributors and everyday consumers.


"Our customers overseas love the quality and safety of US red meat, but they want more than that," Meyer added. "They want to know the story behind these products and details on how they are produced. Having the opportunity to tell that story and engage with these customers has been a very positive experience."


Meyer succeeds outgoing USMEF chair Mark Swanson. Randy Spronk will serve as USMEF chair-elect in the coming year, while the vice chair is Steve Hanson. The newest USMEF officer is secretary/treasurer Jay Theiler.


The conference's closing business session offered attendees a comprehensive overview of the Joe Biden administration's current trade initiatives and their potential impact on red meat exports. Longtime US trade negotiator Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, who is now a trade policy consultant with AgTrade Strategies, LLC, praised her successors for their efforts to address trade barriers that limit US agricultural exports. But she questioned the degree to which the US has now prioritised agricultural trade, noting that Congress still has yet to confirm the nominees for USTR chief agricultural negotiator and USDA undersecretary for trade.


Lauritsen spotlighted tense relations between the US and China but noted that the vast Chinese market still holds tremendous opportunities for US agricultural exports. She closed by emphasising the critical need for US agriculture to remain engaged on US trade policy.


Additionally, the conference focused on the 45th anniversary of USMEF's inaugural office in Tokyo, Japan. The session showcased the value the US-Japan trade partnership delivers for the US red meat industry, highlighting marketing initiatives and future opportunities. Japan has consistently been the leading value destination for US red meat exports and 2022 is no exception, with shipments through September topping US$3 billion.


Masayoshi Kinoshita, director of meat marketing and trade policy for Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, kicked off the discussion with an historical overview of meat supply and demand in Japan. Kinoshita recounted his positive experiences in working with USMEF and described the challenges Japan faces in its domestic production, leading to an expanded role for imports in meeting the country's growing demand for red meat.


A panel discussion featuring USMEF-Japan staff was moderated by USMEF vice president of economic analysis Erin Borror and included Japan director Takemichi Yamashoji, marketing director Satoshi Kato and consumer affairs director Taz Hijikata. The session centered on Japan's value to the US red meat industry as a trusted and reliable customer, and the potential for further growth as consumers in nearly every age group continue to shift from high-priced seafood consumption toward animal proteins.


"Japan is importing US$20 worth of beef tongue from every animal this year and its purchases of skirts and hangers adds US$10.45 to each fed animal in the U.S.," Borror explained. "Japan also accounts for more than 6% of US pork loin production and about 13% to 15% of our picnic production through its demand for ground seasoned pork."


Panelists described recent marketing initiatives developed to promote new applications and uses for underutilised cuts and variety meats in Japan's foodservice and retail sectors.


Longstanding industry relationships are key to USMEF's ability to introduce and test new applications in the Japanese market. This year, for example, marketing programmes have targeted the foodservice sector with promotions for fried pork loin, new pulled pork recipes utilising the picnic and new US beef recipes for Japan's fast-growing yakiniku sector.


"Inflation and a weakened yen have tightened consumer budgets and the market is very receptive to trying affordable protein options," said Yamashoji. "We are conducting promotions at foodservice and retail, and these new recipe ideas are reaching millions of consumers through social media."


Other activities during the event included meetings of USMEF's standing committees, which allow members to receive updates on issues impacting specific sectors. Members of the USMEF Feedgrains and Oilseeds Caucus were treated to an appearance by Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur. She welcomed the USMEF's first meeting in Oklahoma and praised the state's agricultural organisations for their role in expanding global demand for US red meat.


Global production forecasts, export projections, market access challenges and logistics updates were among the agenda items in breakout sessions for the Pork and Allied Industries Committee, Beef and Allied Industries Committee and Exporter Committee. One presentation that received particular attention was a panel discussion by USMEF directors in South Korea, South America and the ASEAN region on convenience-driven trends in product packaging.


The Exporter Committee and Pork and Allied Industries Committee collaborated on a resolution requesting that the USDA and the Office of the US Trade Representative make it a top priority to reach regionalisation agreements with key trading partners related to African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases. The resolution noted that when implemented in cooperation with state animal health officials, these agreements can be a critical tool for mitigating trade disruptions in the event of an animal disease outbreak.



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