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U.S. Beef Debuts in West Africa

Published: Sep 23, 2011
U.S. beef entered exciting new territory this week with its first-ever formal promotion in West Africa. USMEF teamed with the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) office in Dakar, Senegal, for a tasting event at the Radisson Blu Hotel showcasing high-quality cuts of U.S. beef. The event will also mark the beginning of a two-week U.S. beef menu promotion at the hotel.

“There is a great deal of excitement surrounding this event,” said John Brook, USMEF regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East. “Product was flown in from the United States earlier in the week, and the chef and staff from Radisson Blu have gone to great lengths in preparing an excellent presentation for our guests from all the five-star hotels and white tablecloth restaurants in Dakar. We are hopeful that this event and menu promotion will trigger lasting business opportunities for U.S. exporters interested in serving customers in Senegal.”

U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Lewis Lukens addressed attendees of the event. Also in attendance were dignitaries from the United Kingdom and the European Union and members of the local media.

Brook explained that while the economies and income levels in West Africa do not generally accommodate widespread marketing of U.S. beef, promotional efforts targeting high-end hotels and restaurants in the major metropolitan areas could pay significant dividends.

“There is market potential in most West African countries, especially among the five-star hotels and high-end restaurants located in the capital cities,” he said. “Demand is there for high-quality beef, which until now has consisted mostly of chilled product air-freighted from South Africa.”

Brook said the potential quantity of U.S. beef that will be purchased in these markets is fairly limited, but they could represent profitable ventures for some suppliers because of the high-end sector being served.

“The scope of this opportunity is going to be very much confined to the hotels and a few of the top restaurants,” he said. “But the reputation of U.S. beef is such that if we can get a toehold in a place like Dakar, then word can spread among the chefs in this region, as well as into central Africa and further south into markets like Angola and Namibia. South Africa also represents a potentially strong opportunity, because there you have a higher level of purchasing power among a much larger segment of the population.”

South Africa is currently closed to U.S. beef due to lingering BSE restrictions. Most African nations are at least partially open to U.S. beef, though the level of market access varies based on product restrictions and duty rates.