The U.S. Meat Export Federation annual Strategic Planning Conference opening session kicked off with an inside look at the Mexican export market from an executive with H-E-B Grocery in Monterrey, Mexico, an address from USMEF Chairman Steve Isaf.
Isaf, who is concluding his year as USMEF chairman at this week's meeting, emphasized that the U.S. red meat industry needs to "walk in the shoes of our customers" to better understand what those buyers value.
Using technology, Isaf said, can help give the United States an advantage in the international marketplace by improving productivity in a world where more food is needed to feed a growing population.
The importance of the international marketplace for U.S. beef and pork was highlighted during the session in a different fashion by economist and futurist Dr. Jay Lehr, who noted that average incomes in the Third World have risen roughly 65% in recent years, increasing the ability of consumers there to purchase higher value foods like American red meats.
During the session, Jesus Velazco, director of fresh meat and perishables for H-E-B Grocery, also explained USMEF's role in assisting with the retail chain's approach to differentiating itself from its competitors.
According to Velazco, H-E-B focuses on training and development of staff, along with an emphasis on providing products like U.S. beef round meat and middle meats, and U.S. pork hams, loins and ribs.
H-E-B recently collaborated with several U.S. partners, including Certified Angus Beef, in the planning and execution of the world's largest barbecue event, feeding more than 45,000 people in only two hours. H-E-B also has cooperated on a number of programs with USMEF to generate consumer awareness and maintain a high profile for U.S. red meat products.
At the close of the session, USMEF representatives from Singapore, Mexico and the Caribbean prepared dishes using beef, pork and lamb as they would be served in those regions. Selections included pork loin served with a Mexican green mole sauce, a beef salad from Singapore and a Caribbean lamb slider.