COLLEGE STATION – Producing high-quality beef and meeting future global demand was the focus of the 4th Korea-U.S. International Joint Symposium held recently at Texas A&M University in College Station.
The two-day symposium featured a number of experts from the beef industry and abroad.
“The beef industry is going to have to meet demands of a growing global population and expanding economies in the Asian markets,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, Texas AgriLife Research meat scientist and summit organizer. “This summit brought together several experts both domestically and internationally to discuss the future of breeding and production systems used to produce high-quality beef.”
The symposium was held as part of a partnership between AgriLife Research and the Rural Development Administration-Republic of Korea National Institute of Animal Science.
In 2010, the partners signed an agreement to extend a joint exchange in beef-production research, specifically examining the healthful traits of oleic acid found in Hanwoo cattle of Korea.
Presenters showed data indicating the Asian markets have high potential for more beef consumption and demand for U.S. beef.
“We can predict some economic and population growth,” said Tae-Gyu Kim, director of research and technology of Cargill’s animal nutrition business in South Korea. “Total meat consumption per capita in Asia is a lot less than U.S. or Latin America, but there is room to grow, forecasting an increase of 22 percent for beef consumption by 2015 and 44 percent by 2030.
“To meet increasing demand, we predict annual meat production growth increasing by 1.8 percent each year and annual meat consumption will grow by 3.4 percent annually. This production can’t meet demand, resulting in higher prices for animal protein.”
Kim said large urban growth in expected in China, as cities gain 182 million consumers in the next 10 years.
“There’s very large urban growth expected,” he said. “Rural China income is expected to be increasing by 8 percent every year. We have a huge number of potential consumers for high-quality beef.”
Frank Rabe, who represents JBS export sales, said the company can load 39,000 pounds of chilled container beef a day at the port and ship to China.
“We are exporting more beef every year,” Rabe said. “Higher beef prices are also changing the value of beef exports. In July 2011, we added $236 more per head as a result of higher cattle prices.”
However, Rabe said there is concern that if retail beef prices remain high for too long, it will lead to “demand erosion.” He also emphasized the importance of carcass traceability in the international market.
The summit included speakers from Korea, Japan and Brazil, as well as experts from U.S. companies such as Merck Animal Health and Elanco Animal Health, who shared the most recent industry innovations.
“This is a critical discussion for the industry,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, during his opening remarks.
Earlier in the week, Dr. Craig Nessler, director of AgriLife Research, and Smith met with the Korean delegation to discuss the merits of the joint beef project, its accomplishments and future goals.
“The research that you are doing has a positive impact on the beef industry in Texas and Korea,” Nessler told the group. “It’s an opportunity for both to fit individual markets. There are many opportunities for marketing and exchange of materials.”
The focus of research efforts have been producing high-quality beef and feeding of cattle. Smith said future work will focus on animal physiology and breeding traits to enhance production.
Part of Smith’s research program has specifically involved studying the effects of oleic acid in cattle production. Smith and a graduate student have found there are healthful levels of oleic acid in brisket – a cut of beef used commonly among barbecue restaurants.
“Everything that I’ve learned about oleic acid in the past few years is a result of my foreign travels,” Smith said. “More people could benefit from collaborations with other countries. The cultural aspects have supported my science.”
Consumers in Korea are interested in safety and high-quality meat, said Dr. Won-Kyong Chang, director general of the Rural Development Administration-Republic of Korea National Institute of Animal Science.
“In Korea, we are interested in many functions of livestock production and safety is very important,” he said, speaking through a translator.
Chang said beef is a staple food and roasting the meat is a popular cooking method in Korea. Marbling is also an important production trait, he said.
The symposium was developed through a mutual interest by the department of animal science at Texas A&M, AgriLife Research, and the Rural Development Administration-Republic of Korea National Institute of Animal Science.