ONCE every two years meat traders from around the world get to strut their stuff at Vietnam's foodservice trade show known as Food and Hotel Vietnam.
This year's show has just been held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ho Chi Minh City and attracted a whopping 700 exhibitors from 29 countries who in turn presented their products to 14,000 visitors.
While Australia might be inclined to think it has some natural advantage in this market due to geographical location and success in neighbouring beef markets such as Japan and Korea, it needs to be alert to the fact that the rest of the world sees Vietnam as very much up for grabs.
With its mission statement of "Putting US Meat on the World's Table", the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) coordinated the US promotional effort at this year's show with the backing of the USDA Market Access Program, the National Pork Board and the Beef Checkoff Program. They had the largest pavilion at the show and 25 companies and co-operators promoting their products.
Australia was there but so too was a strong contingent from Europe including, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Turkey.
USMEF director in ASEAN, Sabrina Yin, provided some insight into why the US considers Food and Hotel Vietnam one of the most important shows in the region.
She explained that between 2010 and 2018, the number of international tourists in Vietnam tripled from 5 million to more than 15 million and the trend is accelerating with 18 million expected in 2019.
As well, Vietnam has the fastest growing middle class in the ASEAN region and levels of disposable income are rising.
These cultural and demographic changes are driving a shift in consumer preferences, noticeably toward Japanese hot pot and barbecue cuisines.
With the popularity of US beef in Japan for those types of dishes, little wonder the US can see opportunity in Vietnam for the same range of products it sends to Japan.
Hopefully the Australian industry is striving as hard or even harder to capture its share of this developing market.
Horsemeat rears its head again in Ireland
SORRY for the pun but yes, despite the substitution debacle that rocked the European meat industry in 2013 and the extraordinary steps taken to contain the fallout and restore consumer confidence, Ireland is once again implicated in criminal and food-safety investigations into its horsemeat supply chain.
Reported widely in Irish and British media last week, the Gardai (Irish police), together with officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) searched seven sites as part of an investigation into horse meat fraud.
The suspected fraudulent practices are associated with tampering of identification passports and microchips of horses presented for slaughter.
Under the Irish control system, checks are carried out to ensure that when an equine is presented for slaughter it is eligible to enter the food chain. If the information on the database differs from the passport it is excluded from the chain and cannot be slaughtered.
Investigators suspect that meat from horses that that should have been destroyed and not used for human consumption may have been processed and exported to Europe.
Unlike 2013, there is no indication at this stage that unfit product has found its way onto supermarket shelves in either Ireland or Britain.
Back then it was sample testing by FSAI that found horsemeat in significant quantity in a beef burger product manufactured by major Irish and UK meat processor ABP Food Group and sold through Tesco, one of the largest supermarket chains in Ireland and the UK.
That incident escalated rapidly to include frozen lasagna and other beef ready-to-eat products manufactured in France with horsemeat sourced from Belgium, Romania and Canada.
It was only April this year that a Paris criminal court handed down fines and prison sentences to four French and Dutch nationals for the roles they played in the 2013 substitution scandal.
Seasonal shortage driving Victorian market
VICTORIAN markets are leading the rest of the east coast for export slaughter descriptions as supply in the south experiences its usual seasonal downturn.
At Pakenham on Monday one exceptional heavy cow reached 264c/kg which has to be getting up around 500c/kg carcase weight equivalent or better.
More generally the best of the heavyweights in the small offering topped at 243-245c/kg and averaged 230c/kg, a cw equivalent of around 460c/kg.
In the bullock market, the best at Wodonga on Tuesday reached 320c/kg to average 314-315c/kg, a cw equivalent of around 580c/kg.
In contrast, heavy cows at Dalby last Wednesday reached 218c/kg for a 208c/kg average. There were 1200 cows in the 6000 head offering at Dalby but only 26 head reported in the bullock category. Quoted 13c/kg dearer these reached 308c/kg for a 305c/kg average.
Grid rates for cows in the far south seem pretty much in step with the saleyards at 450-460c/kg but possibly lagging the saleyards for bullocks with quotes of 545-550c/kg for 2 and 4-tooth descriptions. However there may be better unpublished rates on offer than the above quoted from published sources.
In southern Queensland processors are taking bookings for early July and grass-fed grids remain unchanged at 415-425c/kg for heavy cow and 530-535c/kg for 4-tooth ox.
MLA's slaughter report for last week reflected the Queen's Birthday public holiday in the southern states with Tasmania, Victoria and male cattle in NSW all recording drops of 20 per cent.
Without the public holiday Queensland had a full production week and numbers were not expected to show much variation on the week before.
That was the case with male cattle however females dropped 3000 head.
That is significant and it poses the question of whether we are starting to see the effects of older northern cows that would normally come forward to slaughter about now being retained for an extra calf.