U.S. pork, beef value, versatility highlighted in Shanghai

Products demonstrated at the event included beef jerky items derived from U.S. round cuts and meals featuring U.S. pork loin as the center-of-the-plate entrée.

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More than 250 representatives of the Chinese meat industry gathered recently in Shanghai at the invitation of the U.S. Meat Export Federation to look at new convenience items featuring U.S. beef and pork. According to USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom, the seminar was designed to show the versatility of U.S. products for home meal replacement and restaurant meal replacement kits.

"Just some options both for retail, brick-and-mortar store business as well as the online, e-commerce business for delivery," Halstrom says. "Some of the items we showed, for example, was the jerky meat made from outside round on the beef side. And on the loin side, we showed some center-of-the-plate pork loin options for meal kits. And all this was designed for satisfying that demand on the convenience side."

The Chinese market, and particularly tourism, has not yet rebounded from COVID, putting a short-term focus on home meals with longer term prospects for growth coming from restaurant business eventually coming back.

"As compared to pre-COVID, in China the consumer is much more conservative. There's still a concern on the sickness front with COVID. So yes, I think there will be a tendency, at least in the short to medium term, to continue to consume a higher percentage of meals at home versus out in the restaurants I would estimate that that would change over time or shift a bit. But no doubt that's an opportunity today," Halstrom says.

"And that was part of the reason for the seminar, was to give the trade some of these ideas on value-added options, be it in-store HMR options or even online options, e-commerce options, to deliver at home some of these meal kits and restaurant meal replacement options. And the feedback from the attendees was very positive about some of these ideas."

The trade seminar was made possible through support from USDA, the Beef Checkoff Program, the National Pork Board and the United Soybean Board.

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