The U.S Beef Check-Off Program was started in 1986 as a producer funded marketing and research program that assesses one-dollar per beef animal at the time the animal is sold. In 2014, Texas beef producers created a check-off of their own. That money is being used to help drive demand for beef exports. Kelley Sullivan is a rancher and sits on the Texas Beef Council Board representing the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
“I just returned from Japan, actually, and I was in Japan last year and in that one year time period we’ve seen exponential growth take place within our largest trading partner. What we’re finding is that the demand for U.S. Beef is just astronomical in the Asia Pacific Region and we’re continuing to see that growth take place really because of the education that’s being done, particularly through the U. S. Meat Export Federation.“
Sullivan says that the education about U.S Beef is being funded by Beef Checkoff dollars.
“I get to see who our end user is, who that consumer is and what their actual flavor is for U.S. Beef, particularly Texas Beef, but U.S. Beef in general. And it’s really gratifying because my dollars that I’m putting into the Beef Checkoff are actually at work for me by driving that demand.”
Sullivan points out that beef is becoming more important in many Asian diets.
“Particularly like I said in Japan and Korea, our two largest trading partners and the emergence even more so of China where we also visited as well. China’s an interesting market from the standpoint that beef has never really been a staple for them in their diet, and so now it’s being slowly introduced.”
Sullivan credits growing Chinese demand for beef to the creation of an economic middle class in a country that’s home to almost a fifth of the world’s population.
“It’s still going to require more education really in that market because they don’t know how to prepare beef. They’ve never had access to any beef of any significant quality, so educational programs like those that are done through the U.S. Meat Export Federation are so critical, because we’re actually teaching the people in China how to use beef in their diets.”