U.S. beef back in China

Sam’s Club first to sell prod­uct in store after 13-year ban lifted.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - NATHAN OWENS

A Sam’s Club mem­ber­ship store in Bei­jing is the first phys­i­cal re­tail out­let in China to sell U.S. beef after the 13-year trade hia­tus, ac­cord­ing to a Wal-Mart spokesman.

Wal-Mart was able to re­act quickly be­cause of its re­la­tion­ship with Tyson Foods Inc., Wal-Mart spokesman Re­becca Lui said.

“When we knew that the China beef ban was lifted, we acted fast and worked closely with our sup­plier Tyson to get the beef to mar­ket,” Lui said.

On Tues­day, the Bei­jing lo­ca­tion sold the first U.S. sourced beef cuts in a phys­i­cal re­tail out­let, Lui said in a state­ment.

“Sam’s Club was able to lever­age Walmart’s global sourc­ing strength to de­liver a lim­ited first batch of high­qual­ity U.S. beef to the Bei­jing lo­ca­tion,” Lui said. “We

started with bone­less short rib, a pre­mium and ten­der part of the meat that is very pop­u­lar among Chi­nese.”

In April, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ne­go­ti­ated their in­ter­na­tional trade re­la­tion­ships dur­ing the World Trade Sum­mit. Since 2003, U.S. beef has been banned from China after a sin­gle mad cow scare out of Wash­ing­ton state. After the sum­mit, Xi an­nounced the re­open­ing of China’s beef mar­ket to the U.S. as long as guide­lines were in place.

With a 30-hour chilled sup­ply chain, Sam’s Club is able to de­liver prime- and choice­grade short ribs from Ne­braska to store lo­ca­tions in China, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. One of the few fa­cil­i­ties ap­proved to ship beef to China is a Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Ne­braska.

“Sup­ply chains can be com­pet­i­tive

ad­van­tages and there­fore cor­po­rate se­crets, sim­i­lar to KFC’s se­cret recipe,” John Kent, di­rec­tor of the UA Sup­ply Chain Man­age­ment Re­search Cen­ter, said in an email. “Trusted sup­ply chain re­la­tion­ships mat­ter in suc­cess­ful busi­ness strat­egy (i.e. Tyson to Wal-Mart helps both com­pa­nies).”

Cur­rently, only beef pro­duced by USDA-ap­proved com­pa­nies in Iowa, Kansas and Ne­braska is el­i­gi­ble for ship­ment to China. Like all ex­ported U.S. beef cuts, those sold at Sam’s Club stores in China are in ac­cor­dance with reg­u­la­tions from the U.S. Meat Ex­port Fed­er­a­tion.

U.S. beef ex­ports are sourced from cat­tle un­der 30 months of age, free of an­tibi­otics and hor­mones, and each cow is “uniquely iden­ti­fied and trace­able back to the farm of ori­gin,” Lui said.

The Sam’s Club store in Shen­zhen, China, has been the high­est-gross­ing lo­ca­tion in the world for the past nine years,

Lui said.

While Sam’s Club may be the first phys­i­cal re­tailer to sell U.S. beef in China, other e-com­merce re­tail­ers in China added im­ported beef to their on­line sales port­fo­lios more than a week ago.

An­a­lysts an­tic­i­pate e-com­merce sales in China to con­tinue grow­ing rapidly, es­pe­cially for gro­cery and food pur­chases. In 2015, 15 per­cent of to­tal re­tail sales were on­line, and those sales are pro­jected to dou­ble to 30 per­cent by 2018, ac­cord­ing to a study from Meat & Live­stock Aus­tralia.

Wo­mai.com, an on­line plat­form run by China’s largest food trader, made avail­able for pre-or­der a to­tal of 663 pounds of U.S.-sourced rib-eye steaks on June 23. More than 1,500 or­ders had been placed over the span of five days. JD.com, one of the coun­try’s largest re­tail­ers, has also been ac­cept­ing pre-or­ders ahead of a sched­uled mid-July avail­abil­ity date.

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