Buyers and suppliers converged recently in Dubai, UAE, for one of the world’s largest food trade shows. While the majority of the show’s attendees were from the Middle East, Gulfood also attracted thousands of prospective buyers from Africa and Asia.
“This was Gulfood’s second year back from COVID but attendance wasn’t just back to normal, it was as busy as I’ve ever seen it,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Attendance over five days was estimated to be about 100,000 and when the final totals are in, it could be an all-time record.”
A wide range of U.S. beef products was promoted at Gulfood, with some markets focused on center-of-the-plate cuts for foodservice clientele, while others are seeking beef variety meat items. In some countries in the Middle East and Africa, initial sales of beef variety meat often lead to expanded demand for beef muscle cuts.
“This region is critical for beef variety meats which presents opportunities to talk with buyers about expanding that portfolio into muscle cuts,” says Halstrom, who attended the show along with Assistant Vice President of Member Services Tammy Connolly and USMEF representatives from the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
“We’re not attempting to appeal to every buyer at this show but there is great potential for grain-fed U.S. beef in foodservice in several markets in this region. Post-COVID, foodservice is booming in some Middle Eastern markets and high-quality U.S. beef is perfectly positioned to meet this demand,” Halstrom adds.
Beef and beef variety meat exports to the Middle East region totaled more than 66,000 metric tons last year, up 3% from 2021, while value jumped 34% to $297 million, according to USDA data compiled by USMEF. Egypt is the largest destination for U.S. beef livers – not only in the Middle East region, but globally. The leading markets in the region for beef muscle cuts are the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Funding support was provided by the Beef Checkoff Program, Texas Beef Council and USDA’s Market Access Program.
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