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.

Lineage Logistics Taps McClendon to Head Europe Operation Lineage Logistics Taps McClendon to Head Europe Operation
Lineage Logistics has appointed Mike McClendon to serve as president of Lineage Europe in support of the Novi, Michigan, USA-headquartered company’s expanding global presence. He will oversee

Pulled Oumph! Pulls in Three World Food Innovation Awards Pulled Oumph! Pulls in Three World Food Innovation Awards
The Food for Progress team’s frozen Pulled Oumph! meat-free alternative to pulled pork scored a hat trick in World Food Innovation Awards competition with victories in three categories: Best

Bassini 1963 Buys Glaxi Pane to Extend Baked Goods Reach Bassini 1963 Buys Glaxi Pane to Extend Baked Goods Reach
Forli, Italy-headquartered frozen bread producer Bassini 1963 has acquired Glaxi Pane, a fellow Italian frozen baked goods manufacturer. The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, was completed

Bindi Introduces New Line of Panna Cotta Italian Desserts Bindi Introduces New Line of Panna Cotta Italian Desserts
Belleville, New Jersey-based Bindi Dessert USA has unveiled a new collection of Panna Cotta to the American foodservice market. Three gluten-free varieties of the Italian sweet treat are

AquaBounty Technologies Sets Common Stock Offering Price AquaBounty Technologies Sets Common Stock Offering Price
AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: AQB), a biotechnology company focused on enhancing productivity in the aquaculture industry and a majority-owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (Nasdaq:

Cooke Inc. Acquires Three Seafood Companies in Two Months Cooke Inc. Acquires Three Seafood Companies in Two Months
Cooke Inc., the Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada-headquartered parent company of Cooke Aquaculture, has purchased Farallon Aquaculture de Nicaragua S.A., a vertically integrated producer of farmed

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese Bites Win Judges Over in Boston Lobster Macaroni & Cheese Bites Win Judges Over in Boston
It was not only a great day for the Irish on March 17, but there was good reason for others to proudly raise a glass as well. The “Best New Foodservice” Seafood Excellence award winner for 2019 is

Ocean Beauty to Debut Products, Distribution Deal at SENA Ocean Beauty to Debut Products, Distribution Deal at SENA
Seattle, Washington-based Ocean Beauty Seafoods will unveil three initiatives at the upcoming March 17-19 Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston, Massachusetts. They include a new Ocean Beauty

Stavis Seafoods Launches SeaTru Lifestyle Seafood Brand Stavis Seafoods Launches SeaTru Lifestyle Seafood Brand
Boston, Massachusetts-headquartered Stavis Seafoods aims to make buying sustainably sourced seafood easier in the USA with the launch of SeaTru, a lifestyle brand that is presented to consumers as

Pier 33 Gourmet Organic Chilean Mussels Debuting in USA Pier 33 Gourmet Organic Chilean Mussels Debuting in USA
Camanchaca Inc., the Miami, Florida-based division of Santiago, Chile-headquartered frozen seafood specialist Camanchaca S.A., will unveil Organic Mussels under its Pier 33 Gourmet label at Booth

Frozen Products in Running for Seafood Excellence Awards Frozen Products in Running for Seafood Excellence Awards
With the March 17-19 Seafood Expo North America set to kick off in Boston, Massachusetts on Sunday, a high point on Day 1 of the annual extravaganza will be the Seafood Excellence Awards

As Brexit Deadline Nears, Tariff Concerns Irk Food Sector As Brexit Deadline Nears, Tariff Concerns Irk Food Sector
With Parliament poised on the evening of March 13 to vote on whether or not Britain will leave the European Union sans a deal with Brussels, following yet another rejection of Prime Minister

Irish Investors Group Nets Donegal Catch from 2 Sisters Irish Investors Group Nets Donegal Catch from 2 Sisters
Birmingham, England-headquartered Boparan Holdings Limited, the parent company of 2 Sisters Food Group, on March 11 announced the sale of its Donegal Catch frozen foods business and Green Isle

Thai Union Inks Seafood Supply Deal with Win-Chain in PRC Thai Union Inks Seafood Supply Deal with Win-Chain in PRC
Thai Union Group executives signed an agreement with Alibaba Group’s Shanghai Win-Chain Supply Chain Management Co. on March 12 to become strategic partners in supplying the Bangkok-headquartered

Trident Triumphs Yet Again with Versatile Protein Noodles Trident Triumphs Yet Again with Versatile Protein Noodles
The winning steak continues for Trident Seafoods Protein Noodles, as the wild Alaska pollock-based product has earned 2019 Food and Beverage (FABI) award recognition from the National Restaurant

Win Chill Cold Storage Expands; Table Top Breaks Ground Win Chill Cold Storage Expands; Table Top Breaks Ground
Win Chill Cold Storage recently celebrated completion of the second phase of its refrigerated warehouse distribution center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA, with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The

McCain Foods Invests to Boost Output at Australian Plant McCain Foods Invests to Boost Output at Australian Plant
McCain Foods aims to spend AU $37 million (approximately US $26 million) to increase capacity at its frozen potato products factory in Smithton, Tasmania, Australia. Work on the upgrade will begin

IARW Tabulates Global Expansion of Cold Storage Capacity IARW Tabulates Global Expansion of Cold Storage Capacity
The International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW), a core partner of the Arlington, Virginia, USA-headquartered Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), has released the association’s

Bristol Seafoods Rolls Out My Fish Fix Frozen Ready Meals Bristol Seafoods Rolls Out My Fish Fix Frozen Ready Meals
Portland, Maine, USA-based Bristol Seafood is launching My Fish Fix, a retail line of quality, simple-to-cook from frozen seafood that will officially debut at Booth 305 during the Seafood Expo

Cloverleaf Cold Storage Seals Zero Mountain Merger Deal Cloverleaf Cold Storage Seals Zero Mountain Merger Deal
Sioux City, Iowa-headquartered Cloverleaf Cold Storage, a refrigerated warehousing company serving customers across the United States Midwest and Southeast, has merged with Fort Smith,

Brioche Pasquier Unveils ‘Cut Above’ New Look Entremets Brioche Pasquier Unveils ‘Cut Above’ New Look Entremets
Les Cerqueux, France-headquartered pâtisserie specialist Brioche Pasquier has given two of its frozen Entremets a new look. The topping design has been especially created to make for “cut above”

MorningStar Farms Entire Range to be 100% Vegan by 2021 MorningStar Farms Entire Range to be 100% Vegan by 2021
Dallas, Texas-based MorningStar Farms has announced that its total line of frozen food products – from newly launched Cheezeburger to Spicy Black Bean Burger, Grillers Original, Breakfast

Vion’s Cool Cuts Offer Frozen Advantages to Meat Market Vion’s Cool Cuts Offer Frozen Advantages to Meat Market
Utilizing matured beef that meets its strict Goldbeef brand standard, Vion has introduced a frozen range of T-bone steak, entrecote, filet and special cuts under the Cool Cuts line label. Aimed at

Aviko Has British Potato Skins in the Foodservice Game Aviko Has British Potato Skins in the Foodservice Game
The Aviko UK arm of Steenderen, Holland-headquartered value-added potato specialist Aviko BV has launched ¼ and ½ potato skins in British and Irish foodservice markets. Made from United

Acquisitions Key in Driving Nomad Foods’ Q4 Sales Surge Acquisitions Key in Driving Nomad Foods’ Q4 Sales Surge
Positive financial results for the fourth quarter and 12-month period ending on December 31, 2018, have given Nomad Foods executives and stockholders reason to smile. Shares, which trade on the New