Finding More Markets for Beef Livers
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Diversifying international destinations for beef livers and other variety meat is an important priority for the U.S. beef industry, because it will add value to U.S. cattle and bolster returns for producers. Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing, explains that a very large share of U.S. beef livers are currently exported to Egypt, and this is especially true since the Russian market closed to U.S. beef in 2013. To ensure continued success in exporting livers, it is important to grow demand in alternative markets such as Mexico, Central and South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Atlanta-based Mirasco, Inc. is a major exporter of beef livers and other variety meat. While exhibiting beef liver sandwiches as a street food item at the USMEF Latin American Product Showcase in Panama City, Mirasco President Sami Rizk offers his thoughts on how this concept’s success in Egypt can potentially be replicated in Central and South America.
Joe Schuele: Finding more destinations for beef livers is a top priority for the U.S. beef industry. In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, Dan Halstrom, senior vice president for marketing, explains why this is an important initiative for maximizing carcass value.
Dan Halstrom: We’re disproportionally focused on Egypt – that’s a good thing because Egypt is such a big buyer of livers, but we really need to diversify the customer base on livers and some of the other offals. Part of the reason it’s become such an issue is that when we lost access to Russia, as did a lot of our competitors around the world three years ago, that was one of the big destinations for livers, in addition to Egypt. It doesn’t look like we are going to regain access to Russia anytime soon, so this is an opportunity to work on some of these other emerging regions. Mexico has been taking more and more of the offals, we’re doing a lot of work in the Central and South America regions – place like Peru are growing – and Africa.
Joe Schuele: One of the companies that is a major mover of beef livers is Mirasco, which has had great success exporting beef variety meats to the Middle East. We caught up with Mirasco president Sami Rizk in Panama, where he was exhibiting U.S. beef liver as a street food item.
Sami Rizk: We started in 1970 shipping variety meats to Egypt, and livers became a very, very popular item. It’s now a very popular street food, making liver sandwiches – sort of like the hot dog cart in the U.S., New York or other major cities. In Egypt it’s liver carts. There are tens of thousands of them around the country, and today Egypt consumes more than 200 million pounds of liver per year. So we’re taking the concept that was developed in Egypt and we want to introduce it to other markets in Latin America. We believe that there are similar tastes in terms of palate and we believe that this has potential in Central and South America. And we hope that with some follow-up we will be able to make a difference and get into some new markets.
Joe Schuele: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit USMEF.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.