The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported that U.S. beef has gained expanded access to Thailand now that bovine spongiform encephalopathy-related import restrictions have been lifted.
Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, said boneless and bone-in beef cuts from cattle of all ages are now eligible for export to Thailand, provided that the cattle are processed on or after April 1. Previously, only boneless cuts derived from cattle under 30 months of age were eligible.
Haggard noted that while Thailand will remain a small destination for U.S. beef — exports to Thailand last year totaled about $3 million — the new import regulations will generate more interest in the market from U.S. exporters.
“Thailand still imposes some of the highest import duties on beef of any import market. Like other Asian markets, we compete in the premium segment with Australian product that enjoys some preferential access there under a free trade deal. So, the market is likely to remain a small one for U.S. exporters,” he said.
As a world-class foodie destination, however, Haggard said a number of foodservice and retail operators in Thailand do want to feature American beef. “Importers are already sending pricing inquiries to our exporters for items such as bone-in short ribs and prime ribs,” he noted.
USMEF said efforts to gain full access for U.S. beef in Thailand are not yet complete, as beef variety meat and offal items remain ineligible. As such, the organization is seeking clarification on the eligibility of processed beef products.