Working to distinguish U.S. pork and beef from competitors’ products while building relationships with traders and foodservice operators in a fast-growing market, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently participated in the 2019 edition of Food & Hotel Vietnam.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP), the National Pork Board and the beef checkoff program, the effort included coordination of meetings between USMEF members and importers, culinary competitions and a U.S. product showcase featuring U.S. beef and pork cuts.
More than 700 exhibitors from 29 countries took part in the biennial trade show, which attracted 14,000 visitors – a 7% increase from 2017. Along with the U.S., countries with their own pavilions included Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey. The U.S. Pavilion was the largest, with 25 companies and cooperators promoting products.
“With all of this competition at Food & Hotel Vietnam, it has become one of the most important shows in the region when it comes to creating awareness for U.S. pork and beef, especially given the increasing demand for imported meat in Vietnam and some of the surrounding countries,” said USMEF director in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Sabrina Yin, who noted that Vietnam’s strong tourism industry has fueled the rapid development of its foodservice sector.
She explained that between 2010 and 2018, the number of international tourists in Vietnam tripled from 5 million to more than 15 million, and 18 million international guests are expected in 2019.
“At the same time, Vietnam has a bustling population of younger people, the fastest-growing middle class in the ASEAN region and rising levels of disposable income,” Yin said. “With these cultural and demographic changes, consumer preferences in Vietnam have shifted toward Japanese, hot pot and barbecue cuisines. Those types of dishes provide opportunities for U.S. red meat.”
The USMEF booth showcased U.S. cuts like beef short ribs, rib-eye, striploin, outside skirt, top blade, short plate and rib fingers. U.S. pork belly, spare ribs and a variety of bratwursts were also displayed.
“We also distributed U.S. beef and pork meat charts and a wide range of informational brochures on U.S. red meat and red meat products,” said Nguyen Dang Minh, USMEF representative in Vietnam. “We were able to talk to several existing customers and made contact with many new potential customers. We also discussed the current market situation in Vietnam.”
A U.S. product showcase and reception were held for traders and buyers unable to attend the show. That event, held at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel, attracted 300 guests and served U.S. beef chuck roll roast and roast pork loin.
USMEF also sponsored three sessions of the Vietnam Culinary Challenge, with U.S. beef rib finger and boneless pork loin as the featured cuts. Young chefs from hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, as well as student chefs from culinary institutes in Taiwan and Malaysia, participated in the competition.
“The challenge provided a platform for U.S. beef and pork to be used in an array of dishes infused with creative touches, and it was also a chance for the young chefs to have a hands-on experience in utilizing U.S. beef and pork,” Nguyen said. “This event provided excellent exposure for U.S. red meat to be featured in a world-class cooking competition.”