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Iowan joins beef trade exploration with Central America

By Staff | May 1, 2013

HAYWARDEN (IBIC)- Iowa beef producer Steve Rehder, of Hawarden, participated in an Iowa Meat Trade Mission to Central America and Mexico in April.

Rehder, a director on the Iowa Beef Industry Council, said that including El Salvador and Honduras on the mission was to identify opportunities for U.S. beef in those two countries.

“Price is the biggest issue, so much of their population lives in poverty,” Rehder said. “Importers have discovered that high quality grain-fed beef is more tender and flavorful than their domestic grass-fed beef, and as their economy improves, there will be potential to increase their imports of U.S. beef.”

The Central American Free Trade Agreement allows U.S. Choice and Prime beef to enter both El Salvador and Honduras without a tariff, because it does not compete with their own grass-fed beef.

The most desired cuts include rounds, skirt steaks, and top sirloin caps, the Iowa trade team learned, as it met with meat processors, government agencies and importers in San Salvador, El Salvador; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; and Mexico City, Mexico.

The group toured processing plants and retail supermarkets.

Mexico is an especially valued customer for U.S. beef, an IBIC news release said, as it is the third largest export market in value and the largest in volume in 2012.

U.S. brands are well received in all three countries, and their citizens like beef. All three countries are also suffering from the same challenges as the U.S. with declining numbers of cattle and increased cost of feed.

“The market development activities of the U.S. Meat Export Federation are impressive,” Rehder said. “They not only develop joint U.S. meat promotions but are committed to education and training programs in meat cutting, product safety, handling and preparation to help companies be successful in selling U.S. beef and pork long term.

“I’m pleased to see my checkoff at work in this way and to know that beef exports added about $216 to the value of each head of my cattle.”

The Meat Trade Mission was coordinated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Other attendees included members of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Partial funding for the mission was provided by the beef checkoff.

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