Iowa beef producers participated in a meat trade mission to Mexico on March 26 through April 1 that was coordinated through the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s international office. Corinne Rowe of Dallas Center and Kent Pruismann of Rock Valley attended the Iowa Meat Trade Mission on behalf of the Beef Checkoff Program through the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC).
Mexico is the U.S.'s third-largest export market for beef and beef variety meats in both volume and value. The country’s most requested cuts include skirt steaks, chuck clods and variety cuts such as tripe (stomach).
According to IBIC, open-air markets are very popular among residents of Mexico when purchasing groceries, including meat. “Consumers in Mexico shop every day for their groceries as refrigeration is very limited. There is an opportunity for expansion of U.S. beef into new regions,” IBIC said.
On the trip, the team also learned that, like the U.S. consumer, consumers in Mexico, primarily Millennials, want to know where their food comes from. However, IBIC said Mexico is a price-sensitive market, which creates a barrier for some cuts of beef, including rib-eye.
“Opportunities to export U.S. beef to Mexico are focused on price,” Pruismann said. “There is a lot of interest in U.S. beef for many beef cuts and variety meats that are in less demand by U.S. consumers.”
The Iowa trade team met with Mexican meat processors, government agencies, importers and meat industry officials and toured meat processing plants and retail supermarkets. Pruismann noted that there is an opportunity to export whole muscle cuts and product for further processing. The team noted that these processors were proud to show their operations within the plants.
“The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an important part of the trade relationship between Mexico and the U.S.,” Rowe said. “The companies we visited want to continue NAFTA, with some updates made to reflect today's market.”
The Iowa team met with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) staff responsible for marketing U.S. beef and pork internationally. They provide educational programs in meat preparation, cutting, product safety and handling. The beef checkoff invests funds to assist the educational and promotional activity efforts of USMEF.
Attendees on the mission included Iowa Economic Development Authority staff, members of the Iowa Pork Producers Assn. and the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Partial funding for the mission was provided by the Beef Checkoff Program.