Where is your Iowa-raised beef exported to? Well, a large portion goes to Japan and South Korea. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) shared WISERTrade data indicating Iowa companies exported $551 million in meat products to Japan and $348 million to South Korea in 2022. “Japan and Korea are the two leading export destinations for our beef,” said Mike Anderson, Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “That is why it is so important for us to keep that communication and those relationships built.” In February, Anderson traveled to Japan and South Korea on a 16-member trade mission trip. The trip, which was led by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, was coordinated by the Iowa IEDA and included visits to meat processing plants, restaurants, supermarkets and more. The group was composed of representatives from various Iowa commodity groups, checkoffs and companies involved in meat and food processing.
Beef is complex and each part of the animal has unique attributes, desired by different customers at different times of the year. Exports enable maximization of value of every animal produced, keeping the U.S. industry competitive, while also enabling U.S. consumers affordable access to their preferred steaks and burgers.
When the group toured supermarkets and grocery stores, Anderson saw a great love for U.S. beef. “Our beef is seen as a premium, high-end food product in those countries,” Anderson commented. “We saw the Beef Checkoff logo on many of the meat cases and big signage throughout different stores advertising Prime U.S. beef.” Anderson credits this love to the quality, grain-fed beef Iowans raise. “They love the taste of corn-fed beef. We have an excellent product we produce and it’s in high demand over there.” The group inquired about other protein categories with interest in learning how foreign consumers view alternative proteins. “Every business or facility we toured, we asked about consumer preference for meat alternatives,” Anderson stated. “Everyone said the same. Those products have not taken off in those countries. Their consumers still want a meat product, which is encouraging.”
That is why a portion of your Beef Checkoff dollars are invested into maintaining and developing international relationships via the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. International trade relationships return value to your operation. According to USMEF, in 2022 value per head of fed slaughtered totaled more than $440 dollars. One way is by creating a market for variety meats not as popular in the U.S. “Consumers in Japan and Korea consume some meat products we don’t as much,” Anderson explained. “That adds substantial value to the beef carcass for our producers when you can export those.” The work of the USMEF and trade mission trips also help gain an understanding of future consumer trends. “Similar to the U.S., they have more consumers wanting to know where their food comes from,” Anderson said. “Not just how it was produced, but who produced it. And so we saw a video display in a grocery store showing the farm or ranch where the meat product was produced.” Other consumer trends from this trip that Anderson noted are fresh, pre-packaged meals and home delivery services. “This trip brought additional perspective and understanding of our export markets,” Anderson concluded. “Knowing these countries view our Iowa beef as a premium product drives home the importance of maintaining that market outlet moving forward.” To learn more about the USMEF and the work they do with our export markets on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, visit usmef.org. You can also discover more about the IEDA and any future trade missions they are planning at iowaeda.com.
Liver, heart, and intestine, oh my! Cuts with less market appeal in Iowa and the collective U.S. are often times viewed as delicacies in broader consumer markets. This graphic depicts the added value variety meats contribute to whole carcass value.
That is why a portion of your Beef Checkoff dollars are invested into maintaining and developing international relationships via the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. International trade relationships return value to your operation. According to USMEF, in 2022 value per head of fed slaughtered totaled more than $440 dollars.