Corn-fed beef trade mission for Iowa, Nebraska producers
A delegation of six producers representing the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Nebraska Beef Council and Nebraska Corn board returned in late June from a trade mission organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation to promote U.S. corn-fed beef in Japan and South Korea.
"This trade mission has been a great opportunity for Nebraska and Iowa corn and beef producers to work together to capitalize on one of our best assets--the high-quality, corn-fed beef that we export from the United States," said Terri Carstensen, a feedlot operator and grain farmer from Odebolt, Iowa, who represented the Iowa Beef Industry Council. "The livestock industry is the No.1 customer for corn, and we appreciate the support of our corn growers to work together to promote our corn-fed beef."
The neighboring markets of Japan and Korea both hold great potential for U.S. beef exports, and at one time they were the No. 1 and No. 3 beef markets respectively. The two countries pose different challenges for beef exports. "Consumer acceptance in Japan is favorable to U. S. beef but the supply of beef from cattle 20-months of age or less limits what we can export," adds Carstensen. "In Korea, we have an ample supply, but lack of consumer acceptance as there are many misconceptions among Korean consumers that U.S. beef is not safe."
The group met with U.S. Embassy staff, Japanese meat buyers, manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors and cold storage operators. USMEF also held a press conference and beef cutting demonstration in Japan that allowed the group to discuss current beef industry issues with Japanese broadcasters and trade reporters and share their personal histories as family farmers and ranchers.
The delegation capped off its Korean itinerary at a large outdoor barbecue held by USMEF at E-mart, a major retailer. The event offered great opportunities for face-to-face interaction with Korean consumers and a chance to personally promote the safety and quality of U.S. beef. The promotion attracted more than 7,000 consumers and produced a significant increase in the store's sales of U.S. chilled chuck eye roll.
"I certainly support the promotional efforts of USMEF, because if we don't promote our product in South Korea, we won't get anything out of that market," said Merle Unkrich of Winfield, Iowa, representing the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. "It's an absolute must, because there are 50 million people in an area the size of Indiana. So we have a tremendous opportunity if we can just change consumer attitudes."
Other members of the delegation included David Hamilton of Thedford, Neb., representing the Nebraska Beef Council; Mark Jagels of Davenport, Neb., and Alan Tiemann of Sweard, Neb., representing the Nebraska Corn Board and Kevin Carstensen of Odebolt, Iowa, representing the Iowa Beef Industry Council.
The Iowa Beef Industry Council represents Iowa beef producers in promotion, education and research programs funded by the $1-per-head beef checkoff. 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, corn and soybean checkoff programs.