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USMEF: Issue Management Top Priority for 2009

by 5m Editor
21 November 2008, at 8:43am

US - At the annual USMEF Strategic Planning Conference held earlier this month in Tucson, Arizona, nearly 300 USMEF members from across nine industry sectors contributed their ideas to program strategies and priorities that will build momentum for global US pork and beef exports.

All USMEF programs in international markets address one of three strategic objectives:

  • Buyer Loyalty, which builds purchases of US beef and pork by current buyers
  • Market Expansion, which introduces US beef and pork to new buyers
  • Issue Management, which minimizes the impact on US beef and pork exports from issues arising in the international markets through government policies and consumer perceptions

As USMEF members evaluated 2008 program results and set priorities for the coming year, they reconfirmed their earlier call for increased resources to be devoted to issue management. They also established priorities so that available resources could be devoted to issues that represent the greatest barriers to trade, and that USMEF is in the best position to influence.

The issues identified by USMEF cover a wide range of obstacles that limit market penetration for US pork and beef. These include inconsistent sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, high tariffs and restrictive tariff rate quotas, age limitations and other product restrictions, stalled free trade agreement negotiations and cumbersome inspection and audit processes.

“We have new issues emerging all the time that hinder exporters’ ability to move beef and pork, and prevent many markets from reaching their full potential,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “Our members understand the importance of identifying and addressing the issues on which we can have the most impact, and directing resources into those areas.”

“As a producer, it’s gratifying to see such great acceptance of our product by overseas consumers,” said USMEF Chairman Jon Caspers, a pork producer from Swaledale, Iowa. “Yet it’s frustrating to know that we could be reaching far more customers if we could just remove some of these obstacles.”

While building buyer loyalty and expanding market penetration remain critical objectives for USMEF, they are often hampered by the technical, political and economic barriers that have been identified and prioritized by the organization.

“USMEF will continue to demonstrate the tremendous quality and value of US pork and beef to overseas consumers,” Seng said. “But our results may never achieve their full potential if these products are made more expensive or less available because of issues that really have nothing to do with product quality or safety. That’s why USMEF needs to address those concerns as a key component of our overall marketing strategy.”

Having gathered important feedback from members regarding its strategic objectives, USMEF will continue to evaluate the past years’ results and refine its specific strategies and programs for 2009. This will include an upcoming planning meeting with international staff in which resources will be targeted for specific markets.