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Beef’s a trip day 26: Quality fans across the globe

Yesterday I told you about Ralph Avila. Although he is a terrific partner, Ralph can’t add that $212 per head all by himself.

He makes connections and completes trainings, but he’s a seller and for everything to work out there must be buyers. In the United States, those are the distributors, restaurants, retailers and chefs.

Overseas it’s the same mix.

Seeing where U.S. beef comes from is always a highlight for our overseas partners.

One of my first CAB assignments was to cover an International Roudup seminar that gathered folks from all over the globe to learn about the U.S. beef production system. Off the top of my head, I can remember meeting people from the United Arab of Emarites, Chile, Mexico and Korea.

Two things stick out: They love the American cowboy. Meeting a real-life one was a life-changing event for some. And two, they appreciate quality beef as much, or perhaps even more, than our stateside partners. I say “perhaps even more” because they often have more hoops to jump through to get it and it usually costs more, yet they’re committed.

And we have every reason to believe that’ll continue. As Dan Basse told us earlier this fall, “We’re also finding from our overseas customers that importing beef is less costly than importing the grain itself.”

CAB recently launched the brand in Jumbo retail stores in Colombia.

We see great promise in places like the Middle East, which is around 4% of CAB’s international business, but experienced growth of 48% from 2010 to 2011. A wave of South American free trade agreements led to launch the CAB brand in three new countires on that continent last fiscal year. Japan currently requires product from animals less than 20-months of age, which adds complexity for packers and creates a trade hurdle. Yet, when that lifts, that’s another source of consumers hungry for what we take for granted: high-quality American beef.

I often talk about our international partners as being “overseas,” yet in reality a big percentage are just over the borders. Mexico and Canada remain our No. 1 and No. 2 international markets.

From the JW Marriot’s steakhouse in Dubai to a HEB retail store in Mexico, we find people who have the same mentality as our U.S. customers. Provide good beef and it will be seen as a value. If you don’t deliver on expectations, don’t expect repeat buyers.

A few years back I chatted with Garry Lawson of Macgregors Meat and Seafood Ltd., a family-owned protein supplier in Toronto, Ontario. He said, “If beef is going to cost a lot, which it will, then it better be very close to perfect.  Anybody trying to get away with serving a Select when it should be Choice or a Choice when it should be Prime is going to fail. You have to have a really high-quality meat on the plate for beef to survive. It’s so expensive that if a customer has just one bad experience, they won’t order the beef again.”

Have you heard us say that before? Turns out that philosophy transcends all segments and all borders.

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,


Beef’s a Trip Archives:

Day 1: Starting at day one

Day 2: Who are these people?

Day 3: Stockholders

Day 4: The cowherd’s purpose

Day 5: Deciding to care

Day 6: Quality focus doesn’t have to skip the middleman

Day 7: Stocking for quality

Day 8: SOLD!

Day 9: What have you done today?

Day 10: Working together to make ‘em better

Day 11: Keep on truckin’

Day 12: Packers want quality

Day 13: The target

Day 14: Packers up close & personal

Day 15: It’s not all about the beef

Day 16: Further processors

Day 17: From here to there–and a lot more

Day 18: He’s on your team

Day 19: Beyond prices, grocery stores uncovered

Day 20: Getting quality in the carts

Day 21: When numbers are down, busy is good

Day 22: Grab hands, give thanks

Day 23: Beef Insurance

Day 24: What chefs want

Day 25: By land, sea, or sky

PS—Holly Spangler’s “30 days on a Prairie Farm” series continues, and if you head on over there you’ll also find a full list of all of those writing their way through November about various ag topics.

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I love God, my kids, my hubby, rural life, agriculture and working for CAB. I’m officially the director of producer communications, which basically means I get to learn from lots of smart people and pass that information along to lots of other smart people: you. I’m so lucky to work with cattle producers and other folks in this great industry. (Oh, and one more job perk? I get to eat lots of really yummy beef.)
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