U.S. Pork, Beef Greeted with Enthusiasm at SIAL 2012
While attendance at the show is drawn heavily from the EU with a strong showing from Russia and the Middle East, nearly 6,000 exhibitors representing more than 100 countries on six continents have their products on display. Notably, China has the fifth-most exhibitors of any country while India is 11th – just behind the United States.
Europe has historically been self-sufficient in pork production, but interest in U.S. pork is increasing due to a changing business climate.
“Over the past four to five months, EU pork prices have risen,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president of marketing and communications, who is in attendance at SIAL. “With rising grain costs and the looming deadline (January 2013) for implementation of the EU’s new animal welfare regulations, we’re seeing growing excitement here for American pork.”
U.S. beef is also getting additional attention this year from European Union buyers because of an expanded, duty-free import quota for high-quality, grain-fed beef, which jumped from 20,000 metric tons last year to just under 46,000 this year.
John Brook, USMEF regional director for the EU, Russia and the Middle East, joined Halstrom in the USMEF booth along with Netherlands-based Nice to Meat, a major EU importer of U.S. red meat and a new member of USMEF.
“There is a very impressive turnout at this show,” said Mikel Pouw, director of Nice to Meat. “We see a great opportunity for continued growth in U.S. beef sales in the EU.”
SIAL is billed as the World’s No. 1 Food Exhibition, and its reach is truly global. U.S. beef and pork products are currently exported to an estimated 100 countries around the world, but the USMEF exhibit at SIAL – funded with support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Pork Checkoff – is giving them visibility in every major market as well as new destinations – from island locations such as Papua New Guinea and Mauritius, to African nations including Tanzania and Burkina Faso.
“Food exhibitions are an important tool to reach a large number of potential buyers at one time, and shows like SIAL give us a good picture of what our competitors are doing,” said Brook. “We are seeing new orders being taken by the hour by our members and new relationships being built with potential customers.”
The value of shows like SIAL was reinforced by Roel Andriessen, senior vice president of international sales for Tyson Foods.
“Like Anuga (the largest food and beverage fair in the world), SIAL enables the industry to conduct business as well as socialize with its global customer base at a centralized international venue,” he said.
Andriessen observed that while the state of U.S. beef exports to the EU has come a long way since the 1980s, meeting the EU’s many requirements continues to pose very real challenges to the U.S. industry. He also noted that “increased opportunities for U.S. pork seem more likely than ever given current high pork prices in the EU and the impact of high input prices going forward.”