Forty representatives of the Chinese red meat industry covering retail, foodservice, processors, institutional sales and marketing gathered in Beijing and Shanghai recently to meet with USMEF representatives to receive training on U.S. pork and beef and better understand the quality and safety characteristics that are associated with U.S. red meat.
Kevin Smith, USMEF's director of export services, and Donald Song, USMEF-China representative in Beijing, provided the meat industry representatives with details on the quality assurance programs utilized throughout the U.S. production chain, background on food safety practices, and fundamentals on the U.S. red meat industry.
US pork quality attributes
Smith led off the program with a thorough review of U.S. pork quality attributes for both table meat and for processing. He explained the relationship of pH, marbling and color to palatability traits such as juiciness, tenderness and water-holding capacity.
The participants also learned how the U.S. pork industry has shaped its production towards achieving optimal levels of pH and marbling using genetics, proper animal handling and technologies such as CO2 stunning and rapid chilling.
“The sales managers of one leading meat importing company told us that U.S. pork is the number one pork they would like to import because they always want to provide the greatest quality pork to their customers,” said Song. “Because of this training session, they feel certain that U.S. pork is safe and nutritious with consistent quality.”
Strong interest/ Focus on pork
Smith noted that there was very strong interest in both U.S. pork and U.S. beef from the people USMEF met with in Beijing and Shanghai. “Since U.S. beef is not currently eligible for export to China, we focused heavily on pork,” said Smith, whose presentation was supported with USDA Market Access Program (MAP) funds. “However, we did hear from the participants that they are interested in purchasing and utilizing U.S. beef once it is approved for shipment to China.”
The USMEF team then provided a detailed description of how the U.S. system uses genetics, the use of grain in feed, and a unique evaluation and grading system for beef that optimizes selection of product for greater palatability.