In September 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population of the United States at about 312 million, with one birth occurring about every seven seconds, and one death occurring every 13 seconds or so. Add to that the effect of immigration, and you get a net gain of one person every 12 seconds. Think about that: One new person added to the American roster every 12 seconds. When you start multiplying that out, it's pretty mind-boggling at least until you think about the world population. Currently at about 6.96 billion, the global population doubled from about 3 billion in 1959 to about 6 billion in 1999 and is projected to surpass 7 billion in 2012, just as we approach a population of about 319 million here in the United States. And while the United States is the third most populated country behind China and India and is expected to remain at that rank as far out as 2050, when we reach a population of more about 422.5 million it pales in comparison to the entire world. In fact, in the big picture, the U.S. population represents just 4.5 percent of the global population.
OK, so outside of our borders are about 22 times as many hungry mouths to feed as there are inside our borders. Even with the rate of growth of the global population expected to slow steadily during the next 40 years, our planet is expected to host 9 billion consumers by 2044. And if you're in the food business raising cattle, for example! the thought of the accompanying growth in potential customers has to ring some pretty substantial bells of opportunity. As opportunities for beef trade with developing countries were emerging in earnest, your national Beef Checkoff Program began focusing some of its investments in the area of "foreign marketing" in the mid-1990s. Today, the checkoff is promoting U.S. beef in more than 80 of the 228 countries across the globe, and working toward expanding that wherever opportunity knocks. The population-based scenario we're presenting in this small space simplifies a much more complex global-market picture, of course, but when you look at the prospects for consumer demand for your beef be it next month, next year, or decades down the road it follows that the domestic market for your product will max out far sooner than the global market.
Keep in mind, of course, that demand for your end product grows based not solely on the amount you can sell, but at what price points it moves. In the U.S., for example, we use all the beef we produce, one way or another. That includes domestic sales and exported cattle, beef and beef products. Put simply, though, when demand is strong when people want your product badly enough to pay more for it that improves the value of your animals back on your farm or ranch. When it comes to building demand, the importance of constantly upgrading the value of U.S. beef and beef products has been a recurring theme throughout this series, and that cannot be overemphasized. Now, in this sixth and final installment, we'll talk about checkoff-funded "foreign-marketing" efforts to share and adapt information about that value in response to questions, concerns and demands of folks outside of our national borders. With that in mind, cattle producers have come to understand the importance of maintaining a strong reputation for U.S. beef abroad, in an effort to keep those global opportunities within reach. Accordingly, your Beef Checkoff Program started an integrated foreign-marketing program in the mid-1990s and now is investing about $6 million a year toward the effort. After earlier discussions
In terms of volume, a 15-percent increase in June brought the cumulative six-month 2011 total exported volume to 1.4 billion pounds valued at $2.55 billion, up a sound 25 percent in volume and 40 percent in value over last year's pace. All told, beef exports equated to 13.8 percent of total production during the first half of this year, with an export value of $192.42 per head of fed slaughter. The United States has also recaptured its position as the world's leading beef exporter, outpacing Australia and Brazil. Key Program Accomplishments So how does the checkoff help make this happen? As each market develops, the checkoff funds promotional and educational activities along the entire distribution chain from importers/distributors to foodservice and retail operators, and even to targeted consumers, in limited cases to achieve the checkoff's strategic priorities. The activities conducted in support of these priorities are similar in all markets, but the implementation and specific messages delivered through them are tailored to fit target audiences in each market and segment: Market development activities include things like contacting buyers and sellers about the commitment of the U.S. industry; participating in trade shows; activating trade teams to share important information and techniques with hotel, restaurant, institutional and retail companies; conducting seminars and training sessions that share key messages about U.S. beef with target audiences; communicating through advertising and public relations to create and maintain a positive image for U.S. beef; and promotions that encourage new first-time buyers of U.S. beef. Market access activities include things like issues monitoring, analysis and reporting; communication of beef safety measures and systems to government and external audiences; and providing technical support for meeting export specifications, certification procedures, safety inspection measures and the like. Let's look at a few of the checkoff-funded foreign-marketing program successes worth celebrating:
The Beef Checkoff Program helped penetrate critical Asian markets, including Japan and South Korea, building consumer trust in U.S. beef and developing business relationships within the meat industry that were necessary to grow our exports to those countries. The checkoff was especially essential in helping rebuild our presence in these markets after the BSE-related market closures.
When U.S. beef was absent from key markets due to BSE, the checkoff helped extend reach to new markets, diversifying the presence of U.S. beef around the world. The results are clear: At one time, Japan and South Korea accounted for more than 60 percent of the value of our beef exports. Today, they make up about 30 percent. And this diversity is not only wise, but absolutely necessary to avoid the U.S. beef industry becoming overly susceptible to any future individual market closures or a downturn in the economy of one of our trading partners.
Through checkoff-funded programs, the U.S. beef industry has developed markets for variety meat, offal and muscle cuts that are underutilized within our borders, but hold desire elsewhere. The Middle East, Russia, Latin America and Southeast Asia are just a few examples of markets that deliver excellent premiums on these types of products, compared to the relatively low-to-no dollar value they attract in the domestic market. This adds tremendous value to the beef carcass, and ensures U.S. producers are paid more for every animal they market.
As it is here at home, developing specific beef cuts that work well for trends in international cuisine is critical to satisfying the diverse palettes of consumers across the globe be it in Asia, Latin America or other regions of the world. If we don't understand what our foreign customers want, and respond directly and effectively to those tastes, then we will not have a lasting market for our product. This is another area where the checkoff's help in funding full-time professionals on the ground in key global markets, is beneficial to growth of our U.S. beef industry. Through contracting of USMEF international staff, the checkoff supports individuals who have extensive experience with the host country's food and meat industry and, thus, are able to provide an insider's perspective on the tastes and buying habits of the everyday consumer in that country or region.
The list of international marketing accomplishments goes on and on, covering all of the same channels as does our list of domestic checkoff achievements, including promotion, research, consumer information, and industry information. Looking ahead, we still have plenty of room for growth in mainstay markets like Japan and Korea; we've just begun to scratch the surface in Europe; and if we can gain access to China, that's a market that obviously holds huge potential for U.S. beef. So, even from the short list of accomplishments you've seen here, it's no wonder that producers who oversee your checkoff investments have made foreign-marketing programs a mainstay of the national Beef Checkoff Program. The idea is to move the roster of potential beef consumers from the millions to the billions, and you just can't hate that. This completes our six-part series celebrating the 25th anniversary of the national Beef Checkoff Program. Learn more about your Beef Checkoff Program any time at www.MyBeefCheckoff.com. Or access the full anniversary series at Silver Anniversary.