U.S. beef and pork are a success in the Caribbean islands, with new cuts and recipes attracting home cooks and chefs alike. Retail promotions, cooking contests, trade shows, U.S. industry tours and personal contacts by the U.S. Meat Export Federation are helping increase interest in U.S. meat, and developing new markets for a variety of products.

“We’re establishing solid relationships with chefs, retailers and companies purchasing beef and pork in most of the Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica and the Netherland Antilles,” according to Elizabeth Wunderlich, USMEF consultant to the Caribbean. “Our strategy is to deliver the same messages to buyers and consumers in the islands, but in different ways. As a result, they are finding a lot to like about what U.S. meat has to offer.”  

In 2006 the United States exported 25,816 metric tons (mt) of pork and pork variety meat to the Caribbean, worth more than $48.5 million, a 32 percent increase over 2005. Meanwhile, 16,704 metric tons of U.S. beef and beef variety meat worth more than $68.6 million were exported to the islands, a 29 percent increase over the year before.

Among the recent efforts by USMEF in the Caribbean was participation in a foodservice trade show for chefs and purchasing managers in late March in Bermuda. A booth at the show enabled U.S. meat companies to offer samples of their products and make contact with hundreds of decision makers.

Earlier this year in Barbados, deskside seminars for chefs, retailers and buyers conducted by Wunderlich demonstrated cutting methods for various meat items. “We made believers of salespeople for the products,” she says. “They now know they can have something different that sells well, and be perfectly comfortable with the product.”

Through another USMEF retail promotion, a team of six meat merchandisers from the Caribbean traveled to the Annual Meat Conference in Florida, attending a full-day seminar on U.S. meat production and marketing at the University of Florida. Several members of this team took information from the tour back to their operations and implemented what they had learned, using U.S. beef and pork.

June events also are being planned for chefs and retailers in other Caribbean islands, including St. Maarten, Aruba, Anguilla, Curaçao, and Trinidad & Tobago. Among the cuts to be promoted to some of these countries include U.S. pork sirloin, shoulder cushion, crown roast and steamship leg.

“Because the United States is close to the islands, we have a great opportunity to reach out to these markets,” says Wunderlich. “U.S. beef and pork are making great inroads in the Caribbean.”

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation