Wyoming beef and lamb could be a regular food item on Taiwanese tables soon thanks to a letter of intent signed by representatives from the Taiwanese meat packing district and several Wyoming agriculture councils.
Taiwan has been purchasing small quantities of beef from Wyoming for almost a year, and soon, they'll be purchasing lamb too. The letter outlined these plans as well as Wyoming's promise to meet the growing demand.
"Taiwan has a population of over 23 million people. And it's an evolving nation in terms of increasing their consumption of beef," said Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Grower's Association. "It's the sixth largest export market for beef from the US. For 2017, it was the fastest growing export market in the world for US beef."
Ron Gullberg, the Business Development Director at the Wyoming Business Council (WBC), also said that in just the two years that US lamb has been imported into Taiwan, consumption increased by 266 percent. That makes a favorable market for Wyoming lamb.
This high demand can be problematic for Wyoming though. If meat is intended for export out of the state or country, it must be processed in a USDA certified processing facility, and there are only two small USDA certified facilities in Wyoming, which are only certified to export interstate--not out of the country.
"Now our big challenge is on this end of the equation, that we don't have any processing facilities in Wyoming for beef. So, anything we ship has to be processed in a facility somewhere else," Jim Magagna said. "Right now, we're doing some in Colorado. And for our producers in Wyoming to benefit, we're going to have to develop some processing in Wyoming that can process on the volume that we can export into a market like Taiwan and other places in Southeast Asia."
Processing out of state diminishes some of the return that Wyoming sees on their meat.
"This letter of intent is obviously not a contract, but it's a conversation starter. The big issue we're working on public-privately is the tariffs on lamb in Taiwan," said Ron Gullberg. "So, again, this ceremonial letter of intent gets all these conversations started on how to develop strategies to overcome the barriers and get a steady supply of lamb and beef to Taiwan."
Trade with Taiwan started after the establishment of the Wyoming Asia-Pacific Trade Office was opened in Taiwan in September of 2018 - making Wyoming the seventh state to establish trade offices in Taiwan.
Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Ivy Engel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.