With rapid economic growth and an expanding middle class that demands higher-quality food options, the Middle East has developed into one of the largest-volume destinations for U.S. beef exports. While a large percentage of these exports are bound for Egypt, the U.S. beef industry is also capitalizing on opportunities in the region’s smaller, emerging markets. With support from the beef checkoff, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently conducted educational activities for chefs and other foodservice industry professionals from Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan.
Drawing a total of nearly 100 participants, training workshops in Oman, Bahrain and Qatar targeted chefs from the hospitality industry as well as several importers of U.S. beef. The sessions focused on farm-to-plate education about U.S. beef production, covering such topics as feeding practices and quality grading. This was followed by hands-on culinary training featuring a wide range of beef items, with the main focus on underutilized cuts. Participants gained valuable information on proper cooking methods, handling techniques and menu applications for each cut demonstrated.
The training sessions allowed chefs to deepen their knowledge of specific cutting and preparation techniques of U.S. beef. During the cooking demonstrations, participants had the opportunity to create and sample a range of U.S. beef dishes, experiencing the tenderness and flavor that set U.S. beef apart from its competitors.
USMEF received very positive feedback from both chefs and importers in attendance.
“As a sales professional, the workshop was very helpful for me,” commented Mahmoud Saraj Bashi, sales executive with Qatar-based importer/distributor Deliopolis. “I gained valuable information about U.S. beef that I can share with my customers.”
“Chefs in the Persian Gulf region are hungry for more knowledge about U.S. beef,” says John Brook, USMEF regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East. “While the potential for beef export growth to this region is significant, these markets are highly competitive and aggressively targeted by nearly every beef-exporting country. So these workshops are a great way to connect with the influencers who are shaping restaurant menus and to demonstrate the unique attributes of U.S. beef.”
Jordanian chefs tour Nebraska
Chefs and purchasing managers from some of Jordan’s finest hotels and restaurants traveled to the U.S. recently for an in-depth look at the U.S. beef industry. After arriving in Omaha, the delegation toured two feedlots before making a stop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). There the trade team met with Chris Calkins of UNL’s Animal Science Department for a question-and-answer session on beef research and production methodology. The next day, the team visited Greater Omaha Packing and had an opportunity to observe the plant’s halal slaughtering processes for beef destined for Jordan and other markets requiring halal certification.
On the final day of the tour, the delegation visited a cow-calf operation owned by Neil and Suzanne Jorgenson near Callaway, NE. There the team learned about breeding and calving seasons and proper animal handling practices.
“The chefs were surprised at how gentle our cattle are and impressed with the quality care they receive,” says Neil Jorgenson. “I think they left with a very positive impression of Nebraska beef and how it is produced. We really enjoyed the opportunity to promote the quality of our cattle and U.S. beef to international customers.”
Several members of the Jordanian delegation remarked at how efficient, clean and impressive U.S. production systems and processing facilities are. Others noted how they appreciated the opportunity to learn more about cattle management and feeding practices and the halal certification process used by U.S. plants.
“The Jordanian market is an important component of USMEF’s beef export strategy in the Middle East,” Brook explains. “Giving chefs from high-end restaurants this type of education and experience helps them to understand the superior quality and versatility of our product and helps U.S. beef land front-and-center on menus in Jordan and throughout the region.”
Joe Schuele is communications director for the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
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