US meat exporters placing their bets on value prized cuts in Taiwan market

By Jens Kastner, in Taipei

- Last updated on GMT

USMEF is looking to develop suitable items for the Taiwanese market
USMEF is looking to develop suitable items for the Taiwanese market

Related tags Beef

US meat exporters are to launch inexpensive cuts of American corn-fed beef in the Taiwanese market, with demand for premium products being depressed by soaring prices for American beef, accompanied by lacklustre consumer spending power on the island.

The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently partnered with a Taipei five-star hotel to promote plate fingers, petite tenders, and clod hearts, which with prices between Taiwan New Dollars TWD250 (US$7.91) to TWD550 (US$17.41) per kilogramme would roughly cost half the price of the currently popular rib eye, fillet, and boneless ribs.

"Since 2012, we have seen the prices of middle cuts increase by at least 20% in Taiwan, compared to 15% in [South] Korea and China,"​ Davis Wu, USMEF Taipei office director, told GlobalMeatNews​.

"We need to search for suitable items for the Taiwan market also because the development of consumer purchasing power in the country cannot compare with Japan and China,"​ he added.

According to the USMEF, beef consumption patterns differ considerably in Taiwan by sector, with shop-retail sourced household cooking favouring Chinese-style stir-fried dishes and stews, while food service heavily focuses on Chinese hot pots, Japanese-style yakiniku and teppanyaki, as well as Korean-style barbecue. The USMEF currently cooperates with the chefs of the Regent Taipei hotel in finding ways to introduce the cheaper cuts into these styles.

"Plate fingers, petite tenders and clod hearts are low in fat, so that it is not easy to cook them without ending up with a dry meat,"​ said Bernard Noel, the Regent Taipei’s executive chef. 

"Our initial trials suggest that cooking them in thick, western-style slices might not work out well, but Asian-style or as ground meat, it should be okay."

He elaborated that a decision on how the cuts will be used by the Regent is likely to be made January, adding that in his long career as a cook, he has "never done any of these parts".

At a recent promotional event, the Regent’s chefs served a petite tender Thai style with pastrami; clod hearts with a Taiwanese soup; and plate fingers with Japanese curry. The USMEF’s Wu projects that Taiwan’s hypermarkets will find the new cuts an attractive choice for households, while middle-priced western-style restaurants, such as TGI Fridays, will introduce them as ground meat also for burgers.

US beef prices have been under upward pressure due to global demand and supply pressures and the strengthening US dollar.

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