Tongues are big business in the meat trade

by 5m Editor
8 July 2006, at 12:00am

CHICAGO - Beef tongues, a popular export item to Japan, tumbled from $5 a pound wholesale in the United States to about $1 when Tokyo banned all U.S. beef about two and a half years ago. Bruce Berven, director of marketing for the California-based Harris Ranch Beef Company, hopes that the tongues it used to ship to Japan will go back to $5 now that Tokyo has agreed to buy U.S. beef again. "On a per head of cattle basis, you are looking at $13 to $15 difference per head. That's huge economically in the beef business," said Berven. The tongue incident is a good example of why foreign markets are important to U.S. meat companies. Each year, U.S. beef, pork, and poultry companies export hundreds of millions of dollars worth of various meat items that most Americans never see on store shelves, but are considered a delicacy elsewhere. Foreign countries buy steaks, pork chops, and chicken too but it is the stomachs, tongues, kidneys, livers, and chicken feet that U.S. meat companies are particularly anxious to export because if sold domestically, those products would bring much lower prices. Source: Reuters

5m Editor