Farm Progress

LEAD Comment: The Chinese middle class is expected to grow 5% by 2022, and this means more beef consumption.

May 24, 2017

5 Min Read
NEW CUTS ADD VALUE: One way researchers have helped add value to Nebraska beef is through new cuts, such as the flat iron steak (pictured) and the petite tender. The beef checkoff has helped chefs understand how to use these value cuts on their menu.shellystuart/istock/thinkstock

By Ann Marie Bosshamer

Question: Nebraska is a leading exporter of red meat in the U.S., and is ranked as the top state in red meat production. It was recently announced than in July, China will allow imports of U.S. beef for the first time in 13 years. What export opportunities does China provide for Nebraska beef, and what other market opportunities are emerging for beef from Nebraska as international consumers improve their diets?

Answer: Each day when I walk into the office of the Nebraska Beef Council (NBC), I am reminded of our mission statement posted on our door, which is "Strengthening beef demand in the global marketplace." This sentence says so much about what we do through the beef checkoff in the areas of promotion, research and education. And because of the significant resource base we have here in Nebraska, there are wonderful export opportunities for our beef community. The resources of land, water, cattle, processing facilities and, more than anything, people make the saying "There is no place like Nebraska" so very true.

As we look at the global marketplace and the fact that 96% of the world's population lives outside of our borders, it's obvious that foreign marketing is essential to our continued success. Here at NBC, our board has used the foundation of putting the money where the people are for years, and this very much includes foreign marketing programs. Every day the equivalent of 2,600 head of cattle from Nebraska alone are exported. That's an amazing figure if you really think about what that means for the Nebraska beef community.

As I write this article, we are most excited about the opening of China to our beef once again. Why? As we know and you have heard, when a person has more disposable income, their craving for protein increases, especially for beef. In 2012, there were 550 million people in China who are considered middle class. This number is expected to increase by an additional 5% by 2022, and currently the average Chinese consumer eats 12 pounds of beef per year. If you do the math, you'll understand why we are so excited.

But let me assure you our focus is not solely on the Chinese market. NBC works very closely with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to conduct promotional opportunities in many countries around the globe. NBC has been a founding partner of the USMEF Latin America Product Showcase for five years now — where the attendance of buyers continues to surge and has outgrown its venue. This coming fall we will be hosting the fifth annual Great American BBQ in Macau. This island off the shores of Hong Kong is a mirror image of Las Vegas, garnering more dollars than the Vegas market itself. Where there are casinos and hotels, there are restaurants, and that means a phenomenal opportunity for beef!

We have worked very closely with the NDA and Director Greg Ibach to hold cutting demonstrations, educational workshops and promotions in the European Union, Hong Kong, Singapore and many other countries. Chris Calkins, University of Nebraska-Lincoln meat scientist, has been an excellent educator in some of these countries, teaching and telling the story of beef from Nebraska. The muscle profiling research that he conducted and revealed about the flat iron steak and petite tender is many times the focus of his session to help chefs understand how to use these value cuts on their menu.

There are many other countries that are emerging markets for us as well, including places such as Ghana, Jordan and the Middle East. Again, with increased personal income combined with tourism and American companies and hotels popping up, the desire for high-quality protein — like beef from Nebraska — is an obvious choice. The work that our partners do with us, coupled with the efforts the packers put forth to market their brands, makes for much success for our farmers and ranchers.

Whether it is conducting a promotion with a restaurant chain in the EU, educating buyers about the great beef from Nebraska or sharing the research about new cuts that have been discovered, you'll find that the beef checkoff is working in many areas of foreign marketing. There are many exciting times ahead as we look to the opportunities in new countries or getting our foot back in the door and displacing other countries as the preferred protein in the old market. Rest assured, the staff and board of NBC and I think about our mission statement every day when we walk through the door, and it's our honor to serve this state, its agricultural community and make Beef What's for Dinner on plates across the globe.

Bosshamer is executive director of the Nebraska Beef Council. She has been with NBC since 1996 and her role includes promotion, education and marketing of beef in Nebraska and across the globe. Ann Marie is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Diversified Agriculture emphasizing in communications. She is a graduate of the Nebraska LEAD XV program, serves on the Ag Builders of Nebraska board of directors, and is a member of the UNL Chancellor's Alumni Advisory Board and the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center Beef Focus Group. She and her husband, Brian, have two daughters and live on a farm near Amherst, where they have a cow-calf operation.


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