Taiwan delegation visits with intent to purchase $960 million in US beef in next two years
Kao Ming Sui Kao has been in the meat import business in Taiwan for 30 years. As the superintendent of the Taiwan Frozen Meat Packers Association, he led the beef and lamb delegation on last week’s Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission. The delegation signed letters of intent for the purchase of about $960 million of U.S. beef over the next two years.
The demand for beef in Taiwan, a country of 23.59 million people, grows at a rate of about 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds per year per person. According to Ming Sui, Taiwan’s consumers prefer U.S. beef to the grass-fed beef imported from New Zealand and Australia for the taste and the absence of a grass-like odor in the beef. U.S. beef has a 55 percent market share of beef in Taiwan.
According to the letter of intent, U.S. beef consumption in Taiwan grew 76 percent from $300 million in 2014 to $552 million in 2018. Taiwan is Colorado’s seventh largest importer of agricultural products and the state’s sixth largest beef importer.
Served in high-end restaurants and available at expansive meat counters at the Costco stores that are wildly popular in Taiwan, Sui Kao (through a translator) said U.S. beef is popular, his favorite being a ribeye. He said older members of Taiwan’s society traditionally used cattle for farming and didn’t prefer the meat, but to the younger generations in Taiwan, it is sought after. Beef, with the exception of ground beef, is also served at home-prepared meals. Filets, he said are popular with female consumers, due in part to the smaller serving size. Heel meat from the round, rib finger meat cut from between individual ribs in the primal, and tongue are also popular, adding further value to beef carcasses.
While in Colorado, the delegation met with JBS Beef International Sales expert Marcello Sanzi. Sanzi said JBS’s 78,000 head per day of beef cattle production capacity plays a role in the company’s $37 billion revenue and $6.7 trillion total economic impact.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis witnessed the signing of a letter of intent alongside Colorado Beef Council Executive Director Todd Inglee. Inglee spent two days with the delegation and said he values the friendships forged with the delegates and anticipates visiting again at some point. Inglee said he is optimistic about the growing demand for beef in Taiwan and their preference for U.S. beef. His conversations with delegates, he said, were constructive and informative and covered all segments of beef production in Colorado.
In an interview Tuesday, Polis said Colorado beef was served to Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen during a recent visit to Denver. Polis called Taiwan a reliable market to expand beef and lamb exports.
“Taiwan is less affected by the trade war than other areas in Asia and we have a strong geopolitical alliance with Taiwan,” he said. “Taiwan is a country that has increased its wealth, its per capita GDP, and along with that meat consumption has increased.”
Polis said this type of collaborative relationship ensures that Colorado producers are in at the ground floor. Much of the work for expanding international markets for Colorado products, Polis said, has fallen to the state level leadership as federal government steps back from that role during trade battles.
After the signing, the group visited a Front Range Costco location. On Saturday, Sept. 21, the group visited Cactus Hill Ranch, Five Rivers Kuner Feedyard and had a tour and dinner at Coyote Ridge Herefords in LaSalle, Colo.
On Sunday, the group traveled to Wyoming where they signed a similar letter of intent witnessed by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. The group made stops at the Samuelson Ranch and Berry Ranch near Cheyenne.
On the ranches, the groups were able to see cattle and sheep grazing, antelope, deer, an eagle, a newly harvested bull elk and hunters along with the mountains they all call home.
Ron Gullberg, business development director with the Wyoming Business Council said members of the Taiwan delegation were able to witness Wyoming’s uniqueness with lamb cooperatives and the beef industry. The council opened a Wyoming-specific trade office in Taiwan in 2018, paving the way to be included in the delegation’s tour.
Gullberg said the goal is to under promise and over deliver, knowing that with consumers who value U.S. beef, branding opportunities abound. With USDA inspected meat packing facilities around the state, opportunities for branded beef are growing in Wyoming as well. Comparing it to craft beer, Gullberg said Wyoming isn’t likely on track for large-scale commodity processing but can take advantage of the Taiwan market demand nonetheless.
On the lamb side, he said with the networking in place, private industry can meet demand for Taiwan consumers. The Mountain States Lamb Cooperative in Douglas, Wyo., and it’s subsidiary, Mountain States Rosen in Greeley, Colo., provide services to producers, including Rosen’s USDA inspected processing. Leadership from both groups were on hand for the tour and Sept. 23 began with a stop at Mountain States Rosen. The delegation then met with Gov. Gordon, had lunch with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. There, they met Val Murray of Murraymere Farms in Powell, Wyo., who makes branded Wyoming Prime beef cuts available to high-end restaurants in Taipei. The delegation then toured the University of Wyoming meat science lab and met Jared Hamilton from Wyoming Custom Meats in Hudson, Wyo., and 307 Meat Company owner Kelsey Christensen, later touring the construction site of his plant.
The meat delegation also visited Kansas and Arkansas. A corn/soybean delegation visited Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska and a wheat delegation visited Oklahoma, South Dakota and Idaho. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.