Washington D.C. is the North American headquarters for Meat & Livestock Australia. As well as looking after the United States, they also cover Canada and Mexico. I got to spend a day in their D.C. office and talk with the staff about what they are doing to build demand for Aussie Beef in North America.
The staff are present at a number of trade shows from the east to west coast of the United States. They always cook product at these trade shows to give people a chance to taste Aussie beef (as well as lamb and goat) and through this, a number of networks are built within the retail sector. The main aim for MLA in North America is to promote a point of difference for purchasing Aussie beef. One example includes chilled Australian beef has a 120 day shelf life, whereas US beef only has a 45 – 50 day shelf life, something very important for retailers in particular. Australia will export 250,000t of beef this year to North America, which makes it our second largest export market.
Consumers, not only the United States, but worldwide, are becoming increasingly aware of where their food comes from, and sustainibility and food safety are high on the list of importance. Part of the job in promoting our beef to chefs, hotels and food service operators, is that their philosophy is line with what MLA in the US are trying to sell. If a famous chef, for example, is then pushing Australian beef, consumers are more likely to want to buy it. There is also an opportunity in niche markets for Aussie beef in the US, such as organic and Wagyu.
What a great opportunity to get a firsthand look at how our beef is being promoted to the US!