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  • USDEC Seminars Educate Global Buyers About U.S. Cheese

    By USDEC Staff March 26, 2015

    Members meet decision makers in Middle East/North Africa market.

    For the U.S. cheese portfolio to grow and become more diverse, it is important to understand the increasing quality and expanding scope of what we have to offer. That's why the U.S. Dairy Export Council offers seminars for international cheese customers.

    GMcheeseIn December, USDEC offered seminars in Hurghada, Egypt; and Casablanca, Morocco, for the foodservice sector in those countries. Among the attendees: purchasing managers for hotels and restaurants, hotel general managers, and food and beverage distributors.

    Antonio Sena, international sales team leader for exports at Schreiber Foods, was one of the USDEC members who attended. He appreciated the opportunity to meet one-on-one with key decision-makers in the Middle East/North Africa market.

    “It was good to learn more about the market and talk to distributors, as well as end-users,” he said. “Nothing is better than first-hand knowledge.

    “USDEC always invites the right people to these events,” he added.

    Cheeseseminar2Dan Duran, regional export sales manager for Hilmar Cheese, attended the seminar in Egypt.

    “I was excited about the turnout and the response from the customer base and the diversity of the attendees,” he said.

    The foodservice and value-added sectors have not traditionally been the focus of U.S.-exported cheese, Duran noted. Most of the cheese exported is commodity cheese sold in big blocks. So, the seminars were a chance to present a broader array of cheese styles―sliced, shredded, table cheese, as well as blocks.  

    The challenge for U.S. companies is to be more energetic and aggressive in finding ways to get these value-added products into the markets, Duran said.

    One phase of the strategy is to make overseas buyers aware of the cheese the United States has to offer. USDEC's new customer-oriented website, ThinkUSAdairy.org, is one communications tool, answering the question, "Why U.S. Cheese?"

    But it is important to follow up and address the buying and logistical needs of the customers, Duran said.

    Selling the product is often the easiest part, he added. The real work is in the logistics and support needed to keep customers coming back for more. For example, showing customers how to minimize price volatility with risk-management tools. Or, understanding their technical challenges and showing them ways to overcome those challenges.

    USDEC seminars have the potential to address these concerns. 

    In fact, USDEC will host two Risk Management Workshops in May in Dubai and Cairo. These interactive workshops will share practical tools and business strategies that buyers of U.S. dairy products can use to mitigate financial exposure to upward and downward swings in global dairy market prices. For more information, click here.

    The seminars last December offered live product demonstrations and the chance for attendees to meet directly with U.S. suppliers.

    Cheeseseminar3Both Duran and Sena walked away from the seminars confident that the Middle East/North Africa market offers strong sales potential for their companies.

    The French influence in North Africa helps make it inclined toward cheese consumption, Sena said. Yet, the people there need to realize that the United States is also a place where they can get cheese—in fact, the United States has more cheese than any place in the world.

    The latter point was a real eye-opener for the people who attended the seminars, Sena noted.

    Based on the feedback from participants, the seminars in Egypt and Morocco were a success.  


    The U.S. Dairy Export Council is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff that builds on collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to build global demand for U.S. dairy products.  

    Image copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

     
    Cheese Global Marketing Middle East/North Africa
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