July 17, 2023
The U.S. Meat Export Federation has just completed its Latin American Product Showcase in Cartagena, Colombia, where U.S. red meat exporters connected with 220 importers from throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. This was the 11th edition of the event, which was first held in Panama in 2011. The showcase was made possible through support from the USDA Market Access Program, the Beef Checkoff Program, Nebraska Beef Council, Texas Beef Council, United Soybean Board, Illinois Soybean Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance.
Participants included Laura De Bedout, who is with family-owned Colombian importing company Vitamar. She says the showcase provided a great opportunity to meet with many suppliers of U.S. beef and pork at a single location, and she was impressed with the selection of high-quality products that were also affordably priced.
"We distribute in the Colombian market pork, beef and some other frozen products. We are a family company in Colombia for 45 years. This show is very important for us, because we can find new suppliers, we can meet all the people that are involved in this sector," says De Bedout. "So it's very important to be here. We try to go to the fairs in some other countries, but to be here in Colombia, that is my country, my market, it's an advantage for me and my company. We are looking to have more brands of beef and pork to complete our portfolio for foodservice. It's very important the price, but quality as well - price and quality and it's very difficult to find that but I think in the U.S., you can find quality and price."
Randy Spronk, a farmer from Edgerton, Minnesota, who serves as USMEF chair-elect, attended his third Latin American Product Showcase, and notes that the event has achieved excellent growth.
"My first Latin America Showcase was in Panama - I actually saw another one in Dominican Republic, and it's just phenomenal seeing the growth that's happening and the impact that has when we're in these countries," Spronk says. "We actually had an industry tour that we had from corn growers and soybean growers, pork producers, beef producers and we saw frozen pork sirloins being processed to be brought to grocery stores, which is great to see these sirloins being marketed. We just had a great taste testing of different cuisines within Colombia and carta haina here that we really enjoyed, to show how our products that are born, raised and processed in United States - how they're actually enjoyed in foreign countries. And just great for those that fund USMEF to be able to see what those funds actually do and show the return on the dollar, return on their investment."
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