UK beef has landed on US soil for the first time in 24 years
British beef exporters were now looking to build confidence in their product in the US, after the first exports arrived on US soil following a 24 year absence.
Americans need ‘a degree of reassurance’ the product would taste right, according to Michael Acheson, Director of Business Development for Foyle Food Group Omagh, Northern Ireland.
“Americans know little about European beef, its taste, beef trimming methods and safety standards,” he said.
Most European beef is produced with high grass and forage components and some supplementary feed – mostly homegrown grains. This affords a level of finish and taste acceptable to the American palate.
Mr Acheson said since 2015 much has been gained by the experience of exporters marketing Irish beef to the US. US government rules changed in 2013 to allow beef imports from countries previously excluded due to BSE.
Understanding the US reaction toward Irish beef over the past five years now helps market UK beef.
“It is an easier sell for us since it is a similar product in some ways,” said Mr Acheson.
Mr Acheson suggested if British Angus and Hereford beef is included, it could help with US consumer confidence. Renown in the US as ‘quality beef’ the fact these breeds originate in the UK may add considerable trustworthiness and interest for ‘British beef from its traditional home’.
The story behind the product was also important.
Mr Acheson said: “To ensure success more detail about the farmer and the UK farming side of things will need to be told such as how animals are raised as well as the breeds involved. Also, there is need to explain why it is a bit different and why it is the same.”
He added American distributors previously visited Foyle’s Northern Ireland plant, so they were familiar with UK beef and processing. This awareness was helpful to the import of British beef.
UK beef in the US is targeted to the premium market. While this was only 5 per cent of the US market, 5 per cent of the US was ‘huge’.
For the first year of UK export was about 1,000t with a value of £4 million. Long term for British beef, he predicted interest in both high-end premium cuts and beef for processing.
As trade develops, the US offers exporters various market sectors for UK beef products. This will benefit British farmers.