Wyoming group promotes beef in Taiwan
Near the end of his first term, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead visited Taiwan to meet with the President of the country.
“He made a point of telling me I was the first Wyoming governor in Taiwan since Gov. Sullivan, which looked like an invitation to do more,” Gov. Mead says. “Since my visit there, we’ve worked in Taiwan and Wyoming to strengthen our relationship.”
When the country invited Mead and a small group to visit and talk about potential partnerships in early October 2017, a contingent of Wyomingites, including Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto, Wyoming Business Council Director Shawn Reece, Wyoming State Senator Eli Bebout and Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, traveled to Taiwan for a week.
Among the topics of conversation, Mead highlighted Wyoming beef.
“We wanted to promote trade broadly with minerals, but I really thought there was also an opportunity to focus on beef,” Mead says.
Magagna comments, “We see Taiwan as one of the most important countries in southeast Asia that could potentially be a strong market for Wyoming beef.”
Past and present
During his first visit to Taiwan, Mead was given the opportunity to look at their agriculture industry, and he also explored the grocery industry.
“They took me to a high-end grocery store, and U.S. beef was prominently displayed as a premium product,” he explains. “Then, in a special area behind thick glass was Idaho beef.”
“That always struck me, and it looked like a good opportunity to promote Wyoming beef,” Mead adds. “We have a very good beef product, and the people of Taiwan are really drawn to the Wyoming mystique and our reputation as the Cowboy State. They enjoy that our cattle are raised in the wide open spaces.”
The early October 2017 trip showed similar trends. During the trip, Wyomingites met with grocery retailers, high-end restaurants and trade institutes, among other groups, to develop partnerships and establishing relationships for future trade activity.
The group visited Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, and traveled to Taichung to meet with various officials in the agriculture industry.
“We found the Taiwanese people to be so hospitable and very committed to establishing relationships with the state of Wyoming,” says Magagna.
Additionally, Magagna cited that, while the country traditionally had consumed red meat at a low rate compared to chicken and other proteins, the demand for beef in the country is increasing, and Taiwanese consumers demonstrate a preference for U.S. beef.
“Today, they get a lot of their product from Japan,” Magagna says.
Mead says there are several areas where Wyoming needs to “catch up.”
“We are falling behind by not having at least a part-time representative in Taiwan to promote Wyoming beef,” he says. “For instance, Idaho committed years ago to promoting beef, and we see that they have been successful in selling their product in Taiwan.”
To capture the market of 25 million consumers, Mead explains a committed representative dedicated to the process of capturing market space is necessary.
“Taiwan would be a great place to ship Wyoming beef to, and, if we can get a trade representative over there, they would be able to create relationships in other Asian countries, as well, to promote our product,” Mead says.
Magagna also mentions that cowboy lore, the natural beauty of Wyoming and the culture of the state are all potential marketing tools for Wyoming-branded products.
“The people of Taiwan view Wyoming as the Cowboy State. They see our beef as coming from wide open spaces where the number of farms and ranches is 11,000 and the average size ranch is bigger than across the United States,” he continues. “The way we raise cattle is also appealing to them, especially if we were able to keep cattle in Wyoming, have them processed here and shipped directly to Taiwan.”
Mead notes that defining “fresh beef” is important for consumers along the Pacific Rim.
“In Taiwan and Asia countries, they emphasized that they wanted fresh beef, which they interpret as meaning no hamburger,” he says. “They want beef that is chilled without hamburger because that is the preference of the people in Asia.”
Identifying beef as from Wyoming is also vital to establishing trade programs.
“If we want to promote state-specific beef and all the attributes of our wonderful Wyoming beef, we have to have a way to show that it came from Wyoming,” he says. “I think there are opportunities for identification and development of process and slaughter in the state, both of which would be key steps in promoting our beef.”
While cattle ID raises questions and concern from some producers, Mead says that, if a market emerges that is interested in buying a large amount of Wyoming beef, identification would be necessary.
Ultimately, however, for producers to be interested in selling beef to Taiwan and taking extras steps towards identification, economic drivers must be in place.
“If we have nine bad years and finally one good year in the industry, ranchers want to get the best value they can,” Mead says. “But, if we look at the demand in Taiwan and Asia for not just beef but premium beef, I think there would be incentive for producers to get involved in a program that creates long-term relationships and good prices over multiple years.”
“I’m a big believer in Wyoming beef,” Mead comments. “Expanding trade and promoting Wyoming beef is good for the state of Wyoming.”
He continues, “We raise great products, and we have great cattle ranchers in the state. Ag is here through thick and thin to support our economy.”
Mead emphasizes, “We have to take advantage of the opportunity to promote and market Wyoming beef to a part of the world that would buy our product at a premium price for many years because of how it was raised and where is comes from.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.