Editor’s note—Meet Greg Bloom, BEEF’s newest blogger. He’s a farm kid from Northern Colorado who owns U.S. Protein, an international distributor of premium meats. Greg will bring his perspective as one who sells the product you produce.
In the fall of 2018, I was in London and Paris attending two large food shows and working with a food distributor. The purpose of the trip was to sell high quality U.S. fed beef.
In London, they seem to like to use the word “USDA” to describe high quality, marbled, grain-fed beef. A few times I was introduced as the guy selling “USDA beef” and once as “this is the cowboy with the USDA beef.” Yes, I was unashamedly wearing my black Stetson wherever I went.
Distributors and their chef customers in London and Paris told me time and again that over the past decade they’ve really wanted to buy USDA grain-fed beef from the United States, but the restrictive quota prohibited them from putting U.S. beef on their menus. They simply couldn’t afford to pay an additional 20% duty on U.S. beef if the quota was full. And the quota was always full!
No, for U.S. beef to be on the menu, it couldn’t be an on-again, off-again program with their menus reprinted annually or every six months. One chef in London told me, “If I put U.S. beef on my menu, I have to be able to get it year-round at a consistent price. Otherwise, it’s off my menu.” A buyer for a medium-sized food distributor in London told me that as soon as the U.S. had their own quota, he’d start buying U.S. fed beef.
The decade old “first come, first served” restrictive quota system put in place by the EU was a crowded field, since the U.S. had to compete with Australia, Argentina and Uruguay for space in the very restrictive quota.
That’s all changed now! The U.S. now has their very own quota for high quality, fed beef. You can read about the details of the new deal in the BEEF article here.
I’m going back to the EU this spring to see those same prospects. Customers in the EU like to put a face with the name on the email and they love to know the story of U.S. beef production. U.S. beef in the EU has a very fine quality reputation and I believe that there’s an incredible amount of pent-up demand for our products by chefs and consumers all across the European Union.
Even with the remaining hormone-free requirement, which the U.S. has proven it can produce in abundance, there’s going to be ample room for market share growth of USDA Choice, upper two-thirds Choice and Prime beef cuts all over the EU.
So when thinking about your next working vacation, don’t rule out the EU. There are plenty of flights, Airbnbs, and new restaurants featuring U.S. fed beef. Hope to run into you on Oxford Street or Regent Street in London. I’m easy to spot wearing my black Stetson. Please say hello!
Bloom is owner of U.S. Protein, an international distributor of premium meats. Contact him at [email protected]