(MeatingPlace.com; March 2012 Edition) Late in the month of January, the United Arab Emirates dropped its objection to the import of U.S. beef from cattle older than 30 months, prompting “huzzahs” from the industry.
Why do they care about a country whose entire population is only 65 percent of New York City’s and whose total land mass is smaller than the state of Maine?
Well, aside from the political symbolism (the UAE’s peninsula divides the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, jutting closer to the coast of Iran than Key West is to Cuba), the UAE was the only country in the Middle East with a beef export verification program in place, a fact that rankled Michael Imgarten to no end.
“The statistics on beef exports to the Middle East illustrate the importance of getting rid of the EV programs that have outlived their usefulness,” says the president and CEO of United Source One, a Baltimore-based exporter of high-end beef products.
Consider that in 2008 — the year before the export verification program was created for the UAE — exports to that country grew 37 percent by volume; for 2009, however, growth braked to just 2 percent by volume, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Since then the country has found its import groove again, with U.S. beef imports jumping 54 percent and 27 percent in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
With EV paperwork off the table, then, exports of high-quality middle meats to the high-end hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai pick up speed. Along with the expansion of such U.S. restaurant chains as Smashburger and Applebee’s, it all helps the U.S. gain an important epicurean foothold in a country that, after all, must import nearly all of its food.