USMEF Spotlights Brazil, Other Trade Partners

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) held its Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Arizona recently, and in addition to electing new officers, the final business session included a presentation focusing on Brazil. Panelists took an in-depth look at Brazil, not only as a competing supplier of red meat, but also as a trading partner and a potential destination for U.S. beef, pork and lamb. (The Brazilian market recently reopened to U.S. beef but is currently closed to imports of U.S. pork and lamb.)

USMEF trade analyst Jessica Spreitzer presented a detailed overview and comparison of Brazil’s red meat production, consumption, exports and imports with that of the United States. Bob Macke, who leads the Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, addressed the broader U.S.-Brazil trading relationship, covering a range of agricultural sectors.

Otavio Migliorini, a native of Brazil who is a partner of PMI Foods operations while also serving as general manager of its South American division, focused on the challenges involved in doing business in Brazil, potential opportunities for U.S. beef and pork in the Brazilian market, and Brazilian consumers’ perceptions of U.S. meat products. Jessica Julca, USMEF’s South America representative based in Lima, Peru, highlighted the early promotional activities USMEF has conducted in the Brazilian market and previewed plans to expand promotions once more U.S. suppliers obtain clearance to ship product to Brazil. The panel was moderated by USMEF Technical Services Manager Cheyenne McEndaffer, who works closely with USMEF member companies to help them meet eligibility requirements in Brazil and other Latin American markets.

Pressing Issues
The Strategic Planning Conference opened last week with an address from Seng in which he discussed pressing issues affecting international meat trade, including the need for improved market access in key destinations such as Japan.

Seng explained that he fields many questions about the potential for a free trade agreement with Japan. While such an agreement is sorely needed, Seng doesn’t see U.S.-Japan negotiations anywhere on the horizon.

“The Japanese government has made it clear in its public statements that it doesn’t want to discuss an FTA with the United States at this point in time,” Seng said, noting that Japan is deeply involved in negotiations with the remaining participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and is looking to eventually expand TPP to include other East Asian countries in the agreement. Japan also recently completed negotiations on an economic partnership agreement with the European Union.

Seng also previewed the upcoming 2018 World Meat Congress, a biennial event that USMEF will co-host with the International Meat Secretariat May 30-June 1 in Dallas. The World Meat Congress is the world’s premier gathering of beef, pork, lamb and veal industry leaders. The conference brings together producers, exporters, marketing specialists, policy analysts, economists and meat scientists to exchange ideas and experiences on key issues affecting the international meat and livestock sectors.

“Hosting the World Meat Congress allows us to extol the U.S. model for agriculture,” Seng said. “We have a science-based agricultural industry, and we embrace science, so this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our way of production and our way of food safety assurance.”

Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, followed with a detailed overview of current market conditions and opportunities in China, which is a mainstay market for U.S. pork and recently reopened to U.S. beef.

Conference attendees also learned how the evolution of shopping and dining habits in key international markets is playing a major role in determining USMEF’s strategies for promoting U.S. red meat. Panelists included Taz Hijikata, USMEF senior manager for consumer affairs in Japan, Gerardo Rodriguez, USMEF director of marketing and trade development in Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, and Jihae Yang, USMEF director in South Korea.

Thursday’s conference highlights included a look ahead at opportunities and challenges in the beef and pork exports markets, with CattleFax CEO Randy Blach leading a discussion that drew expertise from Binger and Jack Shao, Hormel Foods Corporation’s sales and marketing manager for Japan, Korea and international pork.

Anne Dawson, a senior trade advisor in her 19th year of service with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, received the USMEF Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes an individual for leadership and lifetime contributions toward the achievement of USMEF’s export goals.

For more details on the conference, please visit