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USMEF Interns Gain “Real-World“ International Experience

by 5m Editor
15 December 2004, at 12:00am

US - Two graduate meat science students gained “real-world“ international experience while continuing their studies this year, thanks to a new U.S. Meat Export Federation intern program.

Graduate students Sara Still, Ohio State University, and Wendie Phelps, Colorado State University, were the first participants in a program designed to help prepare and educate future meat scientists on how economic, technical, policy and cultural conditions in international markets affect the U.S. meat industry’s ability t o export.

“This internship tied in beautifully with my master’s project, which deals with high-quality Berkshire pork. It was a great opportunity for me to see the export market for that product because it does well in Japan,“ said Still, who spent two months at the USMEF office in Tokyo as part of her studies in swine genetics and meat science.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for me to see firsthand how the Japanese perceive U.S. meat products,“ Still said. She helped gather information on how the Japanese meat industry brands or markets its products so USMEF can successfully implement U.S. meat marketing programs that appeal to Japanese consumers.

“The Japanese are safety-focused and concerned about wholesomeness of product,“ she noted. This factor, she observed, will add to the difficulty of reopening this market to U.S. beef, when a ban – put in place after a single case of BSE was reported in the U.S. – of those imports is lifted.

“It is going to be difficult to regain consumer confidence when Japan opens its market to U.S. beef,“ Still said. One thing in favor of U.S. product, Still noted, “The Japanese enjoy beef very much, but domestic beef is so expensive that most people cannot afford it as a daily meal, whereas U.S. beef is more affordable and still very high in quality.“

While in Mexico City for two months, Phelps worked on a butcher-certification program to enhance local expertise in producing better quality, taste and appearance; a step-by-step import guide for Mexico to increase understanding of U.S. regulations; and a nutrition packet to educate parents on the high nutritional value of inexpensive meat cuts.

“By working with all the organizations that support this program, it helped provide me with an overall feel on how the industry works together to further meat exports across the world,“ according to Phelps, who is pursuing a graduate degree in meat science. She said the projects she worked on opened her eyes to the variety of activities USMEF employs to increase exports. “USMEF has to be involved in so many areas, and I was able to experience all of them.“

This is the first year for the USMEF internship program developed in cooperation with the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) and jointly funded by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) and by producers through their beef and pork checkoffs. The internship is offered yearly with AMSA coordinating the application process and USMEF finalizing and placing candidates in international offices.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.

Source: US Meat Export Federation - 15th December 2004

5m Editor