Retired USMEF Chief Phil Seng Sees Another Good Year Ahead, But Says We’ll Have to Fight for ItMon, 05 Mar 2018 11:07:22 CST
Former head of the US Meat Export Federation, Phil Seng, is now retired but continues to do some work with USMEF from time to time. He sat down recently with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn during the Commodity Classic to talk about an impressive year for US red meat exports in 2017 and his expectations for markets moving forward.
“We had a great year in 2017 as far as the red meat portfolio internationally,” Seng said. “Last year we exported $13.75 billion worth of meat. We thought we might reach that $14 billion mark but not quite. But we’re going to probably get there this year we hope.”
Seng says despite some people’s thinking to the contrary, our Asian markets performed very well particularly in regard to Japan and Korea. Closer to home, both Mexico and Canada made up 35 to 40 percent of our total red meat exports alone. While these markets continue to grow their demand for red meat imports - the opportunity abounds. But, nothing comes without its challenges as well. Seng says ongoing NAFTA negotiations brings uncertainty to our North American markets and our major Pacific competitor Australia is now coming back online after dealing with the effects of drought. He expects the Australians to aggressively market their product this year to make up for lost time. This threat is compounded with Australia’s tariff advantage over the US in Japan as a member of the Trans-Pacific partnership. In the meantime, too, Seng says the US must also continue to nurture its newest market in the region - China, which he describes as the market of the future.
“It’s definitely a market of the future. As time goes by, that market is going to pay dividends for us,” Seng said. “But, the thing about China is, the market itself, there’s a lot of competition in the market or trying to get in and China - it’s hard to really get statistics and know what’s going on. So, we’re still learning as we go in China because it’s an opaque place to work.”
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