Foreign Affairs: The Beef Research Programme

US - The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) have announce that they have been conducting indepth research into many vital areas of beef production, ranging from Carcasse Optimisation to Beef Chuck. The federation believes that the research will be appeal to producers aiming at the international market.
calendar icon 11 April 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

“These research projects provide vital scientific information that assists in resolving market access issues. In addition, these research projects provide new technical information for our marketing programs in international markets,” said Paul Clayton, senior vice president of export services for USMEF.

“A good example of technical research that assisted in market expansion is the 2005 Egyptian Shelf Life Study, which showed scientific evidence for a longer shelf life for liver, hearts and kidneys than that allowed by the Egyptian government,” said Clayton. “This data was shown to the Egyptians officials and the regulation was changed. Today we see increased exports of U.S. livers, kidneys and hearts to Egypt.”

Photo: StockXchange

In fact, U.S. beef and variety meat exports to Egypt in 2003 were about 68 million pounds, and rebounded to about 64 million pounds when the market reopened in 2005. However, after the results of the Shelf Life Study were received, U.S. beef exports jumped to more than 174 million pounds in 2006 and 190 million pounds in 2007.

“While there was a number of factors at play when the Egyptian market reopened in the post-BSE era, the Shelf Life research certainly was a significant one,” said Clayton.

Among the numerous beef projects in various stages of planning, execution and completion are:

  • Carcass Optimisation – This study is being conducted in cooperation with Colorado State University with funding by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), with a goal of identifying a “gold standard cutout” that would enable beef processors to maximize product value. The study will enable beef processors to compare their current cutout to this new standard and help them identify market or production decisions that could help improve their financial return.

  • Alternative International Cuts – The University of Nebraska and USMEF are collaborating on a study designed to find alternative beef muscle cuts that would have similar characteristics to cuts currently being used in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Based on the results of NCBA’s Muscle Profiling, the research is designed to identify new beef cuts that might substitute for existing cuts, since demand for specific cuts is likely to increase when the Japanese and South Korean markets fully reopen to U.S. beef. This project is funded by the Nebraska Beef Council.

  • Chuck and Round Cuts – USMEF is continuing to work with NCBA’s Beef Improvement Group to identify new applications in the international market for the chuck and round. The research is developing cutting systems and yield data for thin-sliced products that will fit Asian hot pot and barbecue cooking styles, and help beef processors merchandise products in those markets.

  • Prohibitive Tissues – Colorado State University and USMEF are collaborating on a beef study funded by NCBA to create technical materials and visual aides for accurately identifying and removing tissues (Specified Risk Materials – SRMs) associated with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This information will be used in technical discussions to develop greater market access for U.S. beef products. This project was based on a previous study conducted by Colorado State University and funded by USDA-CSREES-NIFSI.

  • Beef Chuck – A study designed to identify alternative beef chuck cuts that could be marketed to South Korean consumers when that country’s market reopens fully to U.S. beef was completed recently by USMEF and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Emerging Markets Office (EMO).

Researchers surveyed South Korean meat traders/importers, retailers, chefs and consumers to identify product preferences and potential beef alternatives. In general, the survey determined that most South Koreans are unadventurous regarding food and reluctant to consider new meat products. Generally, traders and restaurants are unwilling to order sufficient quantities of new items because of a general lack of knowledge and experience with them. The introduction of new cuts will require substantial training for the industry and education for consumers before any success can be expected.

Also, the study revealed that South Korean consumers are loyal to domestic beef products. With significant lapses in the presence of U.S. beef since 2003, consumers need reassurance that U.S. beef is safe. Nearly one-third of consumers (32 percent) indicate a willingness to purchase U.S. beef, while another 29 percent are unsure. Australian beef, which has substantially replaced U.S. beef in the market since 2003, is highly regarded. The study indicated that U.S. beef will need to be priced competitively to gain traction in the market.

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