A U.S. Meat Export Federation-designed training program developed to help Colombian butcher shops improve sales of U.S. red meat is expanding into the foodservice sector to work directly with Colombian restaurants. The Butcher Shop Program, developed for retail outlets owned by importers, is a training and evaluation initiative designed to improve food safety practices, customer service standards, product handling, packaging and merchandising. These improvements lead to identification and differentiation for U.S. beef and pork, and ultimately increase sales.
Launched in mid-2021, 20 importers and 61 butcher shop outlets in 11 cities now participate in the program with many more on a growing waitlist.
"There has been tremendous demand from importers for the in-store training that comes with the Butcher Shop Program," says USMEF Trade Specialist Maria Isabel Ruiz. "And as we work to increase the presence of U.S. pork and beef in the foodservice sector, we have learned there are similar needs among restaurants for this type of training."
As with the retail program, USMEF will work directly with importers and their foodservice clients on the proper handling and defrosting of frozen products along with education about the versatility and superior flavor of high-quality cuts of U.S. red meat. Ruiz says the training also provides opportunities to discuss culinary trends, share in the development of new menu ideas and to demonstrate the value of identifying U.S. origin to consumers. USMEF promoted U.S. pork and beef in La Ruta Gastronómica, a culinary tour which celebrates and promotes fine dining and regional cuisines in predetermined Colombian cities.
"We learned from working with top restaurants during La Ruta Gastronómica last year that training and education related to high-quality U.S. meat is also needed in restaurants," adds Ruiz.
Ruiz says La Ruta Gastronómica includes a very robust social media component. U.S. pork and beef benefited from great exposure to consumers last year as a center-of-the-plate option and USMEF will again participate in 2023. U.S. pork and beef dishes will be featured in top-flight restaurants in Monteria in June, Cartegena in July, Cali in late August and Medellin in late October.
Funding for the retail and foodservice training programs and culinary tour is provided by the National Pork Board, the Beef Checkoff Program, and the corn checkoff and soybean checkoff programs.