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Great American Barbecue Brand Debuts in Macau

Published: Sep 20, 2012
The casino capital of the world, Macau is a special administrative region of China, similar to Hong Kong, with a population of just over one-half million, yet it ranks among the top 25 tourism destinations in the world. Macau’s reputation as a tourist magnet made it an ideal location for USMEF’s recent “Great American Barbecue – Nebraska in Macau.”

The gaming industry drew more than 28 million visitors to this former Portuguese colony in 2011, and Macau’s gaming revenue totaled $33.5 billion, 10 times that of the Las Vegas strip. And those high rollers love to eat.

“The food and beverage industry of Macau is evolving fast as the territory attracts visitors looking for a more total tourist experience,” said Joel Haggard, USMEF-Asia/Pacific senior vice president. “USMEF has worked with importers, distributors and chefs for more than 20 years to educate them about U.S. beef, but this event raises the profile of grain-fed American beef to a new level.”

Sponsored by the Nebraska Beef Council, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Trade Office of the Consul General in Hong Kong, The Great American Barbecue – Nebraska in Macau was a must-see event for the region’s food industry professionals. More than 130 key food and beverage specialists from Macau were in attendance. Dozens of sponsors, including five U.S. beef processors, contributed products to an event that featured a variety of U.S. beef barbecue recipes and a host of American foods prepared around traditional Nebraska barbecue recipes.

“This was a great event to expose Nebraska and all U.S. beef to an emerging new market with significant potential,” said J.D. Alexander, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, who represented the Nebraska Beef Council.

Patterned after USMEF’s successful annual Great American Barbecue – Hong Kong, the Macau event put U.S. beef front-and-center with chefs and food-and-beverage representatives from major restaurant and gaming properties including Wynn’s, Sands, the Venetian and Lisboa, as well as local meat importers and distributors.

While middle meats are the most common U.S. beef cuts available in Macau, the menu at the barbecue was expanded to include “Hanging with the Huskers” hanger steak, whole roasted ribeyes and slow-braised chuck flap tail. Guests were given souvenir “Nebraska in Macau” recipe booklets.

Special recipes, marinades and beef rubs were developed for the event by Oralia Cardenas, a Nebraska native and instructor at Macau’s Institute of Tourism Studies (ITM). U.S. Consul General for Hong Kong and Macau Stephen Young welcomed the attendees, noting the interest and growth in the burgeoning food and beverage scene in the territory.

“The Great American Barbecue – Nebraska in Macau was the perfect showcase for high-quality, grain-fed U.S. beef,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “Consumers in this region definitely have a growing appetite for American beef.”

Macau’s current rules allow imports of U.S. boneless beef from animals under 30 months of age. Most is sourced from Hong Kong, an hour away by boat, where U.S. exporters can secure health certificates through under-30-month boneless EV programs.

FSIS health certificates are currently unavailable for direct shipment to Macau. According to Hong Kong re-export statistics, Macau imported 2,240 metric tons (4.9 million pounds) of beef from its neighbor in the first seven months of 2012, a 43 percent increase over the pace of last year.

“Macau is becoming more interesting from a culinary standpoint,” said John Lam, USMEF-Hong Kong regional programs manager. “There are great kitchens, great chefs and a developing high class clientele that seeks quality food, including meat. The Great American Barbecue fits right in with that trend.”