Where’s the Beef, Mr. Presidents? That’s the Takeaway from Argentina

By John Saulnier, FFB Editorial Director

G20 whats to eat Looking across the rows of empty white plates atop fancy white linen in the elegant dining room, I wonder if diners on either side of the florally divided table were asking themselves the obvious question: “Where’s the beef.”

The venue was Buenos Aires during the recently held G-20 Leaders Summit, and Argentine steak was most likely the main course to be served. But the pre-banquet menu was full of tariff talk as US President Donald J. Trump and PRC President Xi Jinping and their advisors sized each other up.

Not long after the end of the dinner it was announced that the United States would hold off on raising tariffs from 10% to 25% on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese imports for 90 days, pending further negotiations. So when January 1 rolls around a trade war ceasefire will be in effect that will last well through the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival holidays. Thereafter, who knows what’s in store.

Officials in the American meat and seafood commercial sectors responded positively to the truce. Encouraged that Washington and Beijing will return to the bargaining table, US Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom commented: “Global demand for US red meat is very strong, but exports cannot reach their full potential until the retaliatory duties imposed by Mexico, China and Canada on US pork and beef (in response to the imposition of tariffs on metals by the United States) are removed.”

John Connelly, president of the McLean, Virginia-based National Fisheries Institute (NFI), whose members are actively engaged in both the import and export of seafood products, said that “even a pause in trade hostilities can help return a degree of confidence to the market.”

He elaborated:

“Seafood exports to China and seafood imports from China both play an important role in growing and maintaining US jobs. The growing middle class in China is an important export market for US seafood products. At the same time, raw material from China fuels production of finished seafood products here. When it comes to seafood, the relationship between the United States and China has historically been symbiotic. Tariffs damage that partnership.”

g20 logoWhile the NFI is pleased with the progress made at the G-20 Summit, it would like to have seen a commitment from China to pause or reduce the 25% tariffs it has already placed on US seafood exports to the PRC, much of which originates from Alaska and is reprocessed in China for re-export. Up until now, Beijing as imposed approximately $110 billion in retaliatory tariffs on US imports of various products.

“We’re hopeful these latest developments will lead to a long term solution,” said Connelly.

While details on the Buenos Aires dinner discussions were sketchy, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement on December 1 that said, in part:

“China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately…If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10% tariffs will be raised to 25%.”

News of the truce saw the US stock market rise significantly on Monday, December 3, only to see the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge 800 points, or more than 3%, on Tuesday. Wall Street trading was suspended on Wednesday, as a federal holiday was declared to honor former President George H.W. Bush, who died at the age of 94 on November 30.

So, as investors wait to see what will happen when trading resumes on December 6, the political and financial pundits’ tongues are wagging every which way. Most, of course, hedge their bets by saying the devil is in the details. Thus far details have been few and far between.

University of Maryland economist Peter Morici recently told the Wall Street Journal: “The president has fallen into the same trap as Barack Obama, George W. Bush and even Bill Clinton. He will get more platitudes and promises and very few results.”

The comment was made before China’s Commerce Ministry predictably quoted an unnamed spokesman as saying the Buenos Aires meeting provided a “clear timeline and road map” and that the PRC intends to quickly implement “an agreed upon consensus.”

This writer, not at all sure what “agreed upon consensus” means, will endeavor to seek clarification from learned sources. But it could take a while to obtain a reliable translation, so please be patient.

Meanwhile, Yu Yongdin, a former advisor to China’s central bank and a current researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, offers the following advice: “China should prepare, but not rush to make concessions. This is a competition of endurance to see who breaks first.”

The whole world is watching what’s next from what President Xi has called “two major countries with great influence.” And as President Trump looks forward to the consummation of “an incredible deal,” perhaps he also remembers the wise words of Confucius (or was it Alexander the Great?) often discovered in fortune cookies served in Chinese restaurants outside of China: “There cannot be two suns in the heavens, nor two emperors on the earth.”

For what it’s worth, let’s refer leaders in both the East and West to the immortal words of Rodney King: “Can't we all just get along?”

May they do the right thing to assure that global commerce and the livelihood of millions continues to swing positively.

SeaPak Expands Product Line with New Calamari Offering SeaPak Expands Product Line with New Calamari Offering
St. Simons Island, Georgia, USA-based SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood Co. has added Calamari with tomato romano sauce to its easy-to-prepare frozen product line. The launch includes rollouts at Kroger,...

Friboi Sets Rail Shipping Pace for Frozen Beef in Brazil Friboi Sets Rail Shipping Pace for Frozen Beef in Brazil
Friboi, the beef brand unit of Sao Paulo, Brazil-headquartered JBS S.A., the largest meat processing company in the world, set a new export logistics record for frozen beef shipped by railroad in

Restaurant Association Remains Positive About US Economy Restaurant Association Remains Positive About US Economy
While growth in the still expanding United States economy slowed during the first half of this year, job creation nonetheless averaged 172,000 a month during the first half of 2019. That was down

Zandbergen and AACo Strengthen Partnership in Europe Zandbergen and AACo Strengthen Partnership in Europe
Zoeterwoude, Netherlands-based Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat announced on July 15 that it is now the exclusive distributor in Continental Europe for Australian Agricultural Company’s (AACo’s)...

Frozen Products in Vanguard of Conagra Brands Rollouts Frozen Products in Vanguard of Conagra Brands Rollouts
Chicago, Illinois, USA-headquartered Conagra Brands is kicking off its new fiscal year with dozens of retail product launches across the four major domains in which it competes. The Frozen &...

Rich Products Introduces Heath Ice Cream Cake in USA Rich Products Introduces Heath Ice Cream Cake in USA
The newly unveiled Heath Ice Cream Cake is being rolled out nationally in the United States to coincide with July’s National Ice Cream Month and just in time for Ice Cream Day on July 21. The

Lamb Weston Strikes Silver and Gold with Hot2 Home Fries Lamb Weston Strikes Silver and Gold with Hot2 Home Fries
“Silver and gold, silver and gold. Everyone wishes for silver and gold…” – and for frozen potato products producer and marketer Lamb Weston, both wishes have come true. The lyrics above, composed by...

McCain Partners with ‘Don’t be Chicken’ Nuggets Startup McCain Partners with ‘Don’t be Chicken’ Nuggets Startup
Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada-headquartered McCain Foods has announced a new strategic partnership and lead investment in NUGGS, a New York City-based startup enterprise that has developed a

Friendly Summer Meal Deals at Friendly’s and Applebee’s Friendly Summer Meal Deals at Friendly’s and Applebee’s
Friendly’s Restaurants in the United States has added several indulgent offerings to its summer menu, while Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar outlets are now featuring shrimp on its “All You Can...

Burger King Debuts Crispy Taco for Buck in United States Burger King Debuts Crispy Taco for Buck in United States
The Burger King restaurant chain began serving $1 Crispy Tacos across the USA on July 9. Available for a limited time, the product features a crispy, crunchy tortilla filled with seasoned beef,...

Bolton Now Owns 100% of Tri Marine Tuna Supply Operation Bolton Now Owns 100% of Tri Marine Tuna Supply Operation
The global tuna supply business of Bellevue, Washington-headquartered Tri Marine has been sold to its longtime partner, Bolton Group. Terms were not disclosed. Workers at Tri Marine’s SolTuna ...

United States DOE Salutes Lineage for Energy Efficiency United States DOE Salutes Lineage for Energy Efficiency
Lineage Logistics is a winner of the 2019 Better Practice Awards presented by the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Plants Program (Better Plants). The Better Plants designation is

Thai Union Opens Preschool for Migrant Workers’ Children Thai Union Opens Preschool for Migrant Workers’ Children
Thai Union Group, the Bangkok-headquartered frozen and canned seafood producer and marketer, officially inaugurated its fourth preschool in Samut Sakhon to help the children of migrant workers obtain

Froneri to Acquire Nestlé Ice Cream Business in Israel Froneri to Acquire Nestlé Ice Cream Business in Israel
Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, England-headquartered Froneri, Europe’s second largest ice cream manufacturer and third biggest worldwide, will enter the Israeli market in earnest with the pending...

300 Jobs to Melt Away at Closing Unilever Ice Cream Plant 300 Jobs to Melt Away at Closing Unilever Ice Cream Plant
Unilever plans to cease production on August 30 its ice cream factory in Henderson, Nevada, USA, and close the facility for good before the end of the year. The move will eliminate approximately

Pork Processor Karro Food Group Purchases Young’s Seafood Pork Processor Karro Food Group Purchases Young’s Seafood
Karro Food Group, a major UK pork producer owned by CapVest Partners LLC for the past two years, has acquired Grimsby, England-based Young’s Seafood. The company has been on the block since...

Private Equity Firms Positively Give a Hoot for Hooters Private Equity Firms Positively Give a Hoot for Hooters
Hooters of America (HOA), the Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered fast casual restaurant operator that bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined,” has been acquired by Nord Bay Capital and

Performance Food Group to Acquire Reinhart Foodservice Performance Food Group to Acquire Reinhart Foodservice
Richmond, Virginia-based Performance Food Group (PFG) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Reinhart Foodservice from Reyes Holdings in a transaction valued at $2.0 billion, or

Umami Ice Cream Cool Treat to Eat in Summertime Japan Umami Ice Cream Cool Treat to Eat in Summertime Japan
The “fifth flavor” of umami has been enjoyed among epicureans in Japan and beyond since Dr. Kikuane Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University identified glutamate as the key ingredient in Kombu kelp more...

Pumpkin Cheesecake Latest Vegan Treat from Central Foods Pumpkin Cheesecake Latest Vegan Treat from Central Foods
Collingtree, England-based frozen food distributor Central Foods has extended its free-from range with the launch of a vegan, gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake. It defrosts in just two hours in the

Orkla Buys CBD Specialty Fudge and Toffee Maker in UK Orkla Buys CBD Specialty Fudge and Toffee Maker in UK
Oslo, Norway-headquartered Orkla Food Ingredients has sealed a deal to acquire British fudge and toffee manufacturer Confection by Design Ltd (CBD) through its NIC Enterprises Limited subsidiary at

Lamb Weston to Purchase Ready Meals Pty in Australia Lamb Weston to Purchase Ready Meals Pty in Australia
Lamb Weston Holdings has entered into an agreement to acquire Ready Meals Pty Ltd, a frozen potato processor in Australia situated about 34 kilometers southeast of Melbourne, for an undisclosed

Amy’s Kitchen Breaks Ground for Plant in Upstate New York Amy’s Kitchen Breaks Ground for Plant in Upstate New York
Petaluma, California-headquartered Amy's Kitchen, a manufacturer of value-added organic frozen food products, has broken ground for construction of a 389,000-square-foot specialty frozen food plant

Contamination Concern Prompts Andouille Sausage Recall Contamination Concern Prompts Andouille Sausage Recall
Elon, North Carolina-based San Giuseppe Salami Co. by Giacomo is recalling approximately 832 pounds of ready-to-eat frozen Andouille Sausage products that may be contaminated with extraneous

ASDA Fires Up Oumph! Range Just in Time for BBQ Season ASDA Fires Up Oumph! Range Just in Time for BBQ Season
Mjölby, Sweden-headquartered Food for Progress is broadening its distribution of meat-free frozen products in the United Kingdom with the planned rollout of Pulled Oumph!, Kebab Spiced Strips,...