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|2002 Cattle Feeders
Annual -- International Marketing
Texas Cooking Goes International
the world, checkoff-funded Texas Beef Festivals are introducing
by Doug Perkins
you accepted a promising position with a major
You teach him the art of grilling grain-fed steaks, and he places U.S. Choice ribeye and striploin on his menu. A year later, though, his purchases remain at 200 kilograms (about 440 lbs.) a month. To remain in business, you have to sell him more volume.
Your analysis reveals that Choice steaks are fine for expense-account travelers, but these cuts are too expensive for the average citizen. So you encourage your customer to add underutilized cuts like brisket or shoulder clod. The big question is how do you teach him to use them?
Welcome to the world of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), the beef checkoff's international marketing organization.
has answered the same question in almost every country it has accessed.
Early on, USMEF staff discovered Prime and Choice cuts are the only
options for a small number of foreign buyers.
Yet the key to building ever-growing
way USMEF has showcased
The promotions include Texas-style decorations to carry out the theme, a Texas-built smoker to cook the beef, and the expertise of a Texas chef and USMEF staff to train the foreign buyer on how to prepare high quality grain-fed underutilized cuts.
2000, USMEF's foreign staff has conducted more than 30 festivals in
also is a universal synonym for beef.
As celebrity chef Stephan Pyles said,
"The festivals have helped promote the fun of beef eating and beef culture, and exposed chefs, the media and consumers to an important regional cuisine," said Joel Haggard, USMEF's vice president for Asia Pacific. "(Foreign) chefs have loved the Texas promotions because of the increase in business and publicity they have registered."
In 2001, the Texas Department of Agriculture's Go Texan Partnership Program (GOTEPP) also partly funded the program. Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Susan Combs has praised their beef-marketing power.
project is a great example of how we can pool our resources in creative
and meaningful ways," Combs said. "These festivals do more than just
Although generally just a two-week promotion, the festivals have proved to have much longer term benefits for the beef industry. They include:
In many new markets, foreign chefs and retailers built their
careers on cooking grass-fed beef from domestic cattle herds or from
"The Texas festivals have been great aids in introducing new cuts to the foreign trade," Haggard said. "But they also are important in showing foreign buyers about a concept. When they see a Texas festival, they begin to wonder why their city doesn't have a barbecue restaurant. And that leads to more training and openness about using U.S. beef."
staff use the festival planning period to educate foreign buyers about the
benefits of grain-fed beef. They
show the foreign restaurant operators why they must cook a brisket or
roast over low heat for several hours to achieve tenderness.
Through this process, the foreign users comprehend the
characteristics of different underutilized
that point, the chef or restaurant operator often applies his culture's
flavors to the cuts. Once that
experimentation occurs, it's even money that some
the perception is debatable, the critics completely missed a critical
point about the festivals-that is, they sell underutilized cuts.
As Dr. Jeff Savell, leader of the meat science section at
The reason is that end cuts do not deposit marbling the way middle meats do. Therefore, it makes little difference if a knuckle or a brisket is Prime or Select. Cuts within both quality grades have connective tissue that requires a long, slow cooking process to make tender. Many Select underutilized cuts also yield more saleable lean than their Prime counterparts, giving them an advantage in addition to price.
Certainly, some foreign chefs prefer to buy High Choice end meats. That's a testament to the powerful sales programs of companies like Certified Angus Beef that have promoted their products internationally for more than a decade. But Texas Beef Festivals prove to chefs that U.S. beef has more than one satisfactory product. This variety is what will help the U.S. compete with grass-fed beef that is produced with lower or subsidized production costs.
Targeting Consumers: Because of limited checkoff dollars, much of USMEF's new-market efforts have to be directed to the foreign trade. A Texas Beef Festival provides USMEF staff with the dual opportunity to get beef messages to the foreign consumer at no additional cost.
is worldwide fascination with the
That's why, even in this country, the Texas name is a strong marketing tool for beef. Look at Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon and Texas Roadhouse. Both are successful nationwide chains, but neither is headquartered in Texas.
doesn't have sole license to the cowboy
Extended Opportunities: One
of USMEF's objectives with the
the right country, the promotions could have amplified effects.
For instance, in South Korea, USMEF Director Brad Park contemplates
possibilities for his country after conducting seven
instance, a chain of Texas-concept restaurants in
"These are exciting ideas, but we don't have the right partner on the table yet," USMEF's Park said. "I will keep looking for the right person to make the project reality."
countries where distributors are the key to building
points out that the festivals have shown distributors the potential of
further processing some raw
There's no doubt that Texas Beef Festivals, with the help of checkoff dollars, have created foreign demand for U.S. grain-fed beef products. And when beef demand increases, the positive effect benefits everyone in the beef marketing chain, even if you personally never sell a kilo of U.S. beef in the export market.
So every time you grill a steak, smoke a brisket or cook a roast in your style, you're doing more than just making a meal; you are perpetuating a cooking method that puts your beef products on the world's table.
Note-Doug Perkins is vice president of beef development for the Texas
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