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As Americans continue to follow the distressing news coming out of Japan, various segments of the meat industry are raising their hands to help. Pledges are coming in from the Pork Checkoff, Beef Checkoff and others to help Japanese consumers deal with the aftershock of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country and its important economy (the third largest in the world).
While it’s certainly only a small drop in the bucket, meat industry execs recognize the importance of lending a hand to aid Japan, which in recent years has been a huge market for U.S. beef and pork, and will likely continue to be – if not even more so – as Japanese agriculture comes under increasing scrutiny due to the threat of nuclear radiation.
Indeed, corporate social responsibility is now a given in the global meat business, where exports and grain costs make up the “new paradigm” driving U.S. profitability and production. That new paradigm was laid out in detail last week by Jim Lochner, chief operating officer of Tyson Foods, Inc., at the J.P.Morgan Global Protein Conference in New York.
The increasing demand for U.S. corn crops in ethanol production has contributed to historically high corn prices, noted Lochner. High input costs, along with increasing global demand for protein, have reduced the amount of meat and poultry available, resulting in higher protein prices for consumers, he added.
Now economists are predicting even higher price tags for proteins as Japan increasingly looks to the U.S. to maintain its meat supply.
Unfortunately, nothing is certain in these unstable times, but maintaining close relationships with your customers overseas not only makes for good business -- it’s the right thing to do.