The European Union’s recent opening of a new, zero-duty quota for high-quality beef has created expanded opportunities for U.S. beef producers and suppliers. The quota, which came into force in August, allows for 20,000 metric tons of high-quality beef at an in-quota tariff of zero. This is in addition to the existing 11,500 metric ton quota that carries a tariff of 20%.
EU import license allocations for U.S. beef during the first quarter of 2010 totaled 2,525 metric tons, an increase of 125% over allocations made last year under the old quota. EU import data for January 2010 (the latest month available) show a 58% increase in imports from the United States, with the U.S. share of the EU’s chilled beef imports rising from 7% last year to 9% in 2010.
Beef exported under the new quota must be derived from non-hormone-treated cattle (NHTC) that are less than 30 months of age. They must be on feed for at least 100 days with minimum energy and intake requirements, and carcasses must be quality graded.
In addition to being offered in high-end restaurants, U.S. beef is beginning to gain some retail traction in Europe. Recent U.S. Meat Export Federation promotions in selected locations have established steady volume growth for U.S. beef sales and attracted attention from competing stores. U.S. beef is now available in Italy at 15 hypermarket and 10 supermarket locations operated by Carrefour Italia, and at 20 Pelicano supermarkets. It is also available in Luxembourg at one hypermarket location.