The Nebraska trade delegation's trip to Hong Kong and Macau has resulted in positive news for the state's beef industry, said Gov. Dave Heineman.
"There is tremendous growth occurring in the Asian markets and the areas of Hong Kong and Macau are growing at double digit rates," he said during a telephone press conference. "This is creating new export opportunities for U.S. food products and our message was that Nebraska is ready to do business. Nebraska beef is featured prominently in both cities and we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity."
During a Nebraska beef promotion at the Steak Expert restaurants in Hong Kong, the owner signed an agreement with Swift & Co. officials for the purchase of Nebraska Beef. To meet the needs of the growing restaurant chain, an average of two shipments a month of Nebraska beef from Grand Island will be sent during the next year, valued at more than $100,000 each. Steak Expert has 40 locations in Hong Kong and is expanding. Steak Expert founder, Andrew Lee of Hong Kong, has been importing beef for more than 30 years and has visited Grand Island on several occasions.
In addition, the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute, the premier culinary school for future Hong Kong and mainland China chefs, has agreed to use beef from Nebraska in its training classes. The Nebraska Beef Council is a partner in the school and will provide the beef students will be using. The council hopes to build familiarity and preference for Nebraska beef among graduates of the program.
In Macau, Heineman announced an agreement to make Nebraska beef the featured product at a new luxury hotel, casino and convention center. The agreement was signed by officials of The Venetian Macao and representatives of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Beef Council. Among its many amenities, The Venetian has 20 fine dining restaurants.
Macau is a peninsula country connected to mainland China that is experiencing tremendous growth as a tourist destination. In 2006, Macau investments reached $14.7 billion. It hosted 22 million visitors, which represents a more than 90% increase over 2002. This year, 27 million, or 75,000 visitors per day, are estimated to travel to Macau.
"In order to further our exports, we need to expand in these growing markets, and these agreements will help place Nebraska beef in a high-profile setting," Heineman said.
Charlie Hamilton, a trade mission delegate, Beef Council chairman and cattlemen from Gordon, said, "The Beef Council views this as an important opportunity for the promotion of Nebraska beef in the Hong Kong and Macau markets because of the opportunity for growth of these markets. Per square inch, beef is one of the most nutritious foods and Nebraska has one of the safest and healthiest supplies of beef in the world. We are excited to have the opportunity to share Nebraska beef with the people of Asia."