With support from the beef checkoff program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Market Access Program, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the beef checkoff, recently promoted U.S. beef at the Gulfood trade show. Held annually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Gulfood is the Middle East’s largest food trade show and one of the largest in the world, hosting more than 100,000 people from 198 countries.
“Aside from the sheer size of the show, evidence of its growth could be seen in the large number of customers from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa that came to the USMEF booth to discuss U.S. red meat and learn about is the products available in their markets,” USMEF president and chief executive officer Dan Halstrom said. “Each year, we are seeing tremendous growth at Gulfood. We see our regular, existing customers as well as new contacts from regions that have a lot of potential for the U.S. red meat industry.”
One of USMEF’s main goals at Gulfood is to help connect U.S. exporters with prospective buyers from the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Gulfood also attracts many food industry professionals from emerging markets in Africa.
Eric Smith, president of Utica, N.Y.-based Smith Packing Co., has participated in Gulfood for many years and appreciates the assistance and support his company receives from USMEF. Smith said his company seeks wholesale distributors in the region to purchase U.S. beef. The trade show, he said, allows U.S. companies to focus in on the interest in U.S. beef coming out of the region, which has been strong over the years.
Mark Spengler of Greater Omaha Packing Co. told USMEF that he believes Gulfood is not only getting bigger but is also getting better.
“I have been attending for 15 years, and the show this year was one of the best,” Spengler said. “I have seen many new business opportunities for U.S. beef and appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Meat Export Federation to arrange the USMEF member area.”