U.S. beef has long enjoyed access to a wide variety of countries. With a large population and rapid economic growth, another region being examined for its export potential is West Africa – including countries such as Angola, Benin, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, USMEF says.

Dan Halstrom, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for marketing and communications, says USMEF has a new initiative in the works to identify opportunities for U.S. red meat products in these destinations, which boast a population of more than 300 million and growing.

Though currently importing mostly variety meats, the West African population is growing rapidly and outpacing domestic meat supplies. The demand, USMEF says, stems from a growing interest in the region's natural resources – gold diamonds, natural gas and the like – which is creating more jobs and drawing in more residents.

"They do have a domestic industry but it's small," Halstrom explains. "It's very apparent to me that if these economies continue to grow they are going to be almost totally dependent on imports."

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