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Social media boosts U.S. red meat profile in Hong Kong

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USMEF partnered with the No. 1 meat opinion leader in Hong Kong, Meat Dee, who has earned a widespread following among meat retailers, wholesalers, meat-themed restaurant operators, importers and distributors.
Providing educational content through Meat Dee, sales of a wider range of U.S. red meat cuts have been realized in both foodservice, retail channels.

With the surge in meat buying at retail and online in Hong Kong, USMEF partnered with an imported meat wholesaler and key opinion leader (KOL) to raise the visibility of U.S. red meat, promote sales of a wider range of cuts with end-users and provide promotional support to foodservice partners.

"The pandemic accelerated demand for high-quality protein and online content about food, meat handling and preparation," says Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. Instead of working with general foodie KOLs, Beef Checkoff Program funding from Texas Beef Council and support from USDA's Market Access Program and Agricultural Trade Promotion Program were utilized to partner with a local meat wholesaler with a strong social media following among the Hong Kong trade. Costs have been lower with this trade-focused approach, says Haggard, "and arguably have resulted in a greater long-term return due to adoption of many of our KOL's recommendations by other institutional meat users."

Known as Meat Dee to his Facebook and YouTube followers, Dee Liu is the son of a former wet market operator who has helped expand the family business into imported meat wholesaling. USMEF has worked with Meat Dee on several educational videos focused on simple at-home preparation of alternative cuts such as the hanging tender. (See video featuring a local Italian chef joining Meat Dee to cook hanging tenders.)

"In providing this educational content to the trade through Meat Dee, sales of a wider range of U.S. red meat cuts have been realized in both foodservice and retail channels," says Haggard.

As the tentative restaurant recovery began in early 2021, USMEF also partnered with Meat Dee on a series of short YouTube videos featuring visits to Hong Kong restaurants where U.S. red meats were featured as center-of-the-plate items. The culinary styles were diverse, ranging from pet-friendly, American-themed restaurants to iconic traditional local steakhouses, hot pot and Korean barbecue establishments.

Aimed at consumers, the emphasis of the 2021 videos was on locally owned and operated restaurants rather than international chains. Each video is approximately 10 minutes in duration and shooting was done 'live' without rehearsals. Two of the videos, for instance, focused on cooking recommendations for U.S. Berkshire pork.

"The contents are not restaurant reviews per se, but stories about the main U.S. red meat dishes that make each restaurant notable or successful," says Haggard.

A total of 16 videos were produced in 2021, attracting up to 30,000 views. The restaurant operators covered in the series have been especially appreciative of the promotional effort given the challenges they faced in 2020 and 2021, Haggard adds.

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