Successful Gulfood Show Underscores Opportunities and Challenges in the Region

More than 150,000 attendees from 190 countries were in Dubai, UAE, for Gulfood, the world’s largest annual food and beverage show. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom reports it was the busiest Gulfood show he’s ever attended with exceptionally large contingents from the Middle East, Africa, China and North Asia.

Beef supply was of great interest for the trade with buyers showing strong interest in exploring a variety of cuts.

A variety of U.S. beef middle meats and end cuts were prepared for attendees at the USA Pavilion

USMEF Africa Representative Matt Copeland (pictured right) meets with regional buyers

“There was an appreciation for the variety of high-quality beef cuts that are available from the U.S.  For those who know our middle meats they were interested in looking at end-cut options,” says Halstrom. “And those familiar with our end cuts were interested in our variety meat choices. That’s a major benefit of this show, getting our members together with the trade to talk specifically about the options we have available.”

The turnout from Africa was the largest that Halstrom had seen at Gulfood, which contributed to numerous meetings about market development plans and strategies for the U.S. red meat industry.

“We had a great many discussions at the show about Africa amongst USMEF staff, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), importers and U.S. suppliers who are active or interested in the region,” said Halstrom. “There’s tremendous enthusiasm for the potential that Africa holds for our industry.”

Red Sea shipping issues were also a common point of discussion during Gulfood. Exporters have adapted to the shipping challenges in the short term but expressed serious concerns about continued disruptions, added risk, increased transit time around the cape of Africa and soaring transportation costs.

“The real issue for us is that the Middle East is a high-value region for U.S. beef on a per pound basis. Any kind of disruption that increases costs makes our product a little less viable economically,” Halstrom adds.

Funding support at Gulfood was provided by the Beef Checkoff Program, Texas Beef Council and USDA’s Market Access Program.

Source: USMEF