Beef Buzz News
Don Close, VP of Rabo AgriFinance Explains How Beef Won Over the Chinese Consumer
Wed, 22 Sep 2021 10:39:28 CDT
Today, Ron Hays gets the Beef Buzz from Don Close, senior vice president for food and ag research, animal protein at Rabo AgriFinance, on plant-based protein in the market and why beef demand is so high in China.
Listen to Ron's conversation with Don here
There are so many different diets to follow these days. There are broad versions of diets, like the vegetarian or pescatarian diet. Then there are “fad” diets that offer special food strategies to maximize health benefits, like the Caveman diet or the South Beach diet. No matter what diet you adhere to, your body needs protein.
American consumers have nearly limitless protein options, including all our favorite farm animals, but also plant-based or “alt-meat” options. These days, you can even order a plant-based burger at select fast-food restaurants. According to Done Close, plant-based protein had animal-protein producers shaking in their boots two or three years ago. Today, not so much.
“Everywhere I went, that was the lead topic,” Close said. “Over time, (the) industry has become comfortable or familiar with it. When I get questions on alternative products today, more often than not, I’m speaking with a think-tank or academia.”
During the dark days of COVID in the U.S., when grocery store shelves ran nearly empty, plant-based protein was among hard-to-find options, he added. Since U.S. supply chains have stabilized, Close said data shows plant-based protein is losing ground, but he is cautious to paint plant-based protein in a non-threatening light.
“All those products - they are not going to go away,” Close said. “They are going to continue to improve the quality of those products.”
While plant-based protein may be in last place, there is no doubt that beef is in first place. A colleague of Close’s is finishing up research in China, where she has been studying beef demand.
“Her real takeaway is, this demand for beef in China is not going to go away,” Close said. “The opportunities that brings for the U.S. are incredible.”
Close said two impactful events and timing allowed beef to go from being enjoyed while dining out in China, to being cooked at home.
“The real driver that she brings up is, not only was China suffering from swine fever … that narrowed the price spread between beef and pork, so it made beef the valued product,” Close said. “Then we got hit with COVID and prior to covid, the overwhelming majority of beef consumption in China was meals away from home. Stay-at-home orders forced the Chinese consumer to learn how to prepare beef at home in an expeditious manner.”
According to Close, beef has landed in China and is there to stay.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear from Ron Hays and Don Close as they talk more about plant-based protein and beef demand in China.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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