The Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) recently collaborated on a meat-centered trade mission with the Iowa Area Development Group, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn, Iowa Farm Bureau and private industry representatives in Vietnam and the Philippines. Checkoff’s investment in USMEF allows for in-country representation that works to build relationships aimed at marketing U.S. beef in more than 120 countries.
Dave Rueber of Luxemburg, Iowa, highlighted the potential for U.S. beef in the two countries. “Both Vietnam and the Philippines have youthful populations that enjoy U.S. products. They represent great potential in an area of the world that is already a strong supporter of U.S. beef.”
Vietnam’s population totals 95.5 million people in the latest census data. Vietnam has a rising gross domestic product, which allows them to increase the demand for U.S. beef. Last year, Vietnam imported 12,501 metric tons (mt) of U.S. beef, an increase in volume by 16%, and $62 million, a 2% increase in value of product, according to USMEF data.
“What impressed me the most was the opportunities that exists in Vietnam. The rising incomes and interest in U.S. culture are demand drivers for a quality food supply. This was not at all what I expected to see in this developing country. Their infrastructure is much more robust for imported meat products,” said Chris Freland, executive director of IBIC.
In Vietnam, many prefer a new trend, Japanese BBQ. Meat expenditures account for 37% of their income and 44% is the total monthly food expenditure in urban households.
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands. The population, according to the latest census data, is 105 million and growing at a 1.6% rate. They are experiencing a trend towards urbanization at a rate of 50%, meaning more people are moving to city centers than rural communities. In relationship to the population growth, 52% of Filipinos are now under the age of 24, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Ag Services data. There is a steady economic growth in all sectors, however, the income disparity has poverty persisting.
“The Filipino culture enjoys food and entertaining. The import opportunities are plenty with a balance of residents food preferences and the growing tourism sector,” shared Freland.
In 2018, the Philippines imported 17,941 mt of U.S. beef, an increase of 42% in volume, and $87 million, an increase of 39% in value of product, according to USMEF data. The new generation of millennials are socially connected, enjoy bonding and celebrations around food.
The mission was coordinated by Iowa Economic Development Authority and USEMEF with representatives from IBIC, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn Promotion Board and several other private business professionals. The mission was partially funded by the IBIC through the Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program.