On 14 March, the Peruvian government agreed to relax lingering trade restrictions on certain beef exports when Tom Vilsack, secretary for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), visited South America on a diplomatic trade mission.
Under the new agreement, all federally inspected beef plants can now export beef to Peru, meaning there is an opportunity for the US to increase shipments of offal, especially tripe and heart.
The agreement is not a watershed moment. Beef trade between the two countries is already “well-established” and, last year, exports exceeded $25m (€22.3m), according to USMEF. But now that US has gained full access to Peru’s market, the USMEF believe the deal can help producers get a better return on offal cuts.
Offal the ‘cornerstone’
“This is really an opportunity for more volume,” said Dan Halstrom, senior vice-president for global marketing at USMEF.
“Beef offals are really the cornerstone of their market. Across the table, beef offals are in high demand, especially tripe and hearts. Tripe, specifically, there could be 10 or 15 different types of tripe that could be marketed down there in the [Peruvian] marketplace, so this is an excellent opportunity to add value to the carcase.”
Halstrom added that little value could be accrued by selling beef offal in the US market. But the sale of tripe and heart to Peru would see “incremental value” added to the Peruvian market which, he said, was more inclined to cook with offal. There is also an opportunity to boost the numbers of muscle cuts for the high-end market in Peru, although this is expected to be less of an opportunity than the trade in offal.
Pork picking up
The deal between the US and Peru’s agriculture departments was focused on the removal of beef trade barriers, but Halstrom said pork was making progress in Peru too. Last year, exports of pork to Peru nearly doubled in value, rising to $9.8m (€8.7m).
“It’s not nearly as big of a market for pork, but it is a growing market for pork and, five years ago, we exported less than $1m per year of pork to Peru and we’ve seen it go up to $9m last year,” said Halstrom.