Mexican firm urges increased beef production in Canada

If Canadians produce more beef, Mexico will buy it.

Mauricio Usabiago Diaz-Barriga, a partner in the family owned food distribution company Susazon in central Mexico, said Canada needs a strategy to expand it current cattle beef herd.

The Canadian herd size, now at around 13 million head, has been declining for nearly a decade.

“Canada has more potential to play a bigger role worldwide in the beef industry,” Diaz-Barriga told the Canada Beef Inc. forum in Calgary Sept. 17.

“We have a lot of ideas as to how you can sell more product in Mexico, but we have to start thinking outside the box on this strategy.”

Mexico is already a major customer of Canadian beef, but an expanded product line could open the door to Latin America and the Caribbean, where the food culture is similar, he said.

Susazon offers 300 value added food items through a large distribution network and owns 21 retail outlets, said Ernesto Usabiago Diaz-Barriga. It handles produce, poultry, beef, pork, lamb and fish.

The firm was started in 1992 by three brothers who were educated in Canada and the United States. The family farms in the state of Guanajuato.

Mexicans eat two billion kilograms of beef a year.

The imported product comes from the United States and Canada.

“All the beef that is consumed in Mexican restaurants comes from the States and Canada,” he said.

His company imports most of its beef from Canada because they have confidence in the system with traceability, rules on humane handling and pure European breeds that produce more consistent product.

“In Mexico, Canada is regarded as a trustworthy nation. It is our job to promote that,” he said.

The company has also sent staff to the Canada Beef Centre of Excellence to develop recipes for cuts that would be enjoyed by Mexicans and tourists. Most recently, Susazon launched a certified Angus beef patty containing 100 percent Canadian beef.

Mexico’s culinary influences come from Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil and Peru. A large tourist trade and improving domestic consumption has prompted Susazon to design its products to fit a wide array of tastes.

“We are always looking for innovation and we are always looking to do a better job with whatever we can get our hands on,” he said.

The company also exports products to the U.S. to serve 50 million Mexicans living in that country.

“They are looking for certain products they can buy in the States that they used to buy in Mexico,” he said.

Contact barbara.duckworth@producer.com

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