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Maintaining U.S. Beef’s Strong Momentum in Chile

Published: Mar 28, 2013
Exports to Chile were one of the U.S. beef industry’s biggest success stories of 2012, as shipments increased 170 percent in volume (11,403 metric tons) and 161 percent in value ($59.1 million) over the previous year. These totals are even more remarkable when one considers that U.S. beef exports to Chile were less than $2 million in 2009 and only $6.2 million in 2010.

USMEF South America representative Jessica Julca and Ralph Avila of Sysco South Florida conduct a U.S. beef cutting demonstration in Santiago, Chile

Even with this highly successful entry into the market, however, some restaurants and other end users still have difficulty finding a supplier of U.S. beef cuts that fit their needs. In order to achieve sustained growth for U.S. beef in Chile, USMEF must raise awareness of the products available – especially among key buyers in the foodservice sector.

This was one of the main goals behind “The Secrets of U.S. Beef” – an educational seminar conducted last week in Santiago, Chile. The seminar was held in conjunction with the EIIGA 2013 food show, which attracted more than 300 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees to Santiago’s CasaPiedra Convention Center. Forty-five chefs, distributors and other foodservice professionals from the area attended the USMEF seminar, with members of the local food trade media also in attendance. Funding support for the seminar was provided by the Texas Beef Council.

Paraguay has recently been Chile’s largest beef supplier, but Paraguayan beef has been absent from the market for more than a year due to foot-and-mouth disease issues. Though beef exports from Paraguay to Chile have now resumed, USMEF South America representative Jessica Julca doesn’t see this as a negative development for U.S. beef.

“Paraguay’s absence from the Chilean market certainly opened some doors for U.S. beef in terms of buyer interest, but I do not see us giving any of that business back,” she explained. “Consumers here have responded in such a positive way to the superior marbling and flavor of U.S. beef, and we expect this to drive further growth. However, Chile is an extremely competitive market and our success here has captured the attention of other suppliers. This is why Texas Beef Council’s support for this educational seminar is so critical, so that we can continue to grow awareness of U.S. beef.”