Representatives of the Kansas Corn Commission, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and Amsterdam-based importer Nice to have reach an agreement with Hilton Hotels for the launching of a premium U.S. beef burger. The U.S. burger will be featured at more than 120 Hilton Hotel restaurants across Europe, thanks in part to promotional support from Kansas corn producers.
Billed as the "Best Burger of the World," the classic sandwich will be one of the most prominently featured U.S. beef items since the agreement was reached last year between the United States and the European Union on a new duty-free quota for high-quality beef derived from non-hormone-treated cattle. One of the U.S. Meat Export Federation's strategies in Europe is to enhance the image and reputation of U.S. beef through prestigious venues such as top-tier hotels.
The Kansas delegation includes Commissioners Brian Baalman of Menlo, Pat Ross of Lawrence, Ken McCauley of White Cloud and Mike Brzon of Courtland. They are accompanied by Kansas Corn Commission Executive Director Jere White, who says the Hilton burger promotion presents a very exciting opportunity for corn producers, who add value to their product through exports of U.S. beef.
"It's the reintroduction of what they're calling the classic US beef burger," White said. "It's the result of a chefs' taste testing that took place in Europe and a cooperative effort with the importer."
This project will be the most visible promotion for U.S. beef in Europe since the hormone ban. "It's an entryway back into the Hilton Restaurants high end beef market and we're excited to be a part of it," White said.
The organizations formally endorsed the agreement at a signing ceremony and press conference in Amsterdam, as explained by Kansas Corn Commission Executive Director Jere White:
"The ceremony to introduce the classic beef burger from the Hilton Restaurants was an excellent event, it was well attended by the media here in the Amsterdam area. I believe over 15 publications were represented," White said. "We had the opportunity to talk about the importance to Kansas farmers, Kansas beef producers and the overall Kansas agricultural industry. It was a very nice turn out, a very good reception and a lot of interest in what's going on."
One of the beef suppliers for the project is Kansas-based Creekstone Farms, located in Arkansas City. The plant produces a beef product that meets the European specifications. White and corn commissioner Pat Ross visited the Creekstone facility in Arkansas City prior to the trip.
"Creekstone has done a very good job of finding a way to fit in to this specialty market," Ross said. "We are excited that a Kansas company is a part of this effort."
White said he was particularly impressed with the commitment shown by Hilton to provide its customers with a quality dining experience featuring U.S. beef.
"They seem to be very excited about this. The head chef for Hilton throughout all of Europe was one of the folks making presentations. He talked about the interest in providing a uniform product which he believes can best be achieved with U.S. origin beef and all their restaurants across the European area," White said. "In fact this agreement included some 130 Hilton restaurants located in twenty-five different countries. It really is a major undertaking on their part."
Although the main focus of the trip was to promote the beef project with Hilton Restaurants, the group met with pork importers.