PMI Foods blazes trail into the Chinese beef market

In May 2017, an exciting announcement was made for meat producers across the United States. For the first time since 2003, China would allow U.S. beef exports directly into the country.

At a time when protectionist policies are dominating the national dialogue and the fate of long-standing trade agreements are in question, the opening up of the Chinese beef market has been a positive step for international trade. This change has led to new opportunities in a country that is already one of Utah’s top trading partners.

A big win for Utah companies

Agriculture production and processing make up approximately 15 percent of total Utah GDP, and the cattle industry represents a sizable percentage of that. Many hard-working, family-owned cattle ranchers across the state now have access to millions of new potential customers in China.

The policy change does not only impact large companies, but small, rural companies as well. As the demand for beef rises, so will the price. It is exciting to think about the positive reverberations this will have in rural communities.

Parker-Migliorini International (PMI Foods), a global enterprise located in Salt Lake City, is an example of a large Utah company that has already seen a boom in business thanks to this trade agreement. Offering a broad range of food products, PMI Foods jumped head first into this new market as soon as the announcement was made.

PMI Foods, bringing U.S. beef back to China

In June, PMI Shanghai received CIQ (China Inspection and Quarantine) approval and was the first company to import a shipment of U.S. beef since the ban was lifted. This is quite an accomplishment for a company that started in Utah and another “No. 1” for the state. The company has been selling goods on Fruitday, an e-commerce platform that focuses on global import of fresh products.

PMI Foods supplies an extensive range of products, including beef, pork, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and animal feed, to all of the major international markets around the world. It has corporate offices strategically located in the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania.

The company operates on three business platforms: PMI Global Solutions, PMI Distribution and PMI Food Service. PMI Global Solutions is the product procurement, sales and logistics side of the business, while PMI Distribution supplies the needs of local wholesale markets and PMI Food Service. PMI Food Service sells to restaurants, processors and retailers in specific target markets.

Thousands of containers of products are shipped internationally by PMI Foods each year. Its mission is to create solutions in the global food market that add value to both customers and suppliers, providing sustainability and development for the company and its employees.

Providing customized local service on six continents, it is fair to say PMI Foods has a worldwide presence. The company’s roots began in Salt Lake City in the ‘90s, and it continues to grow on a yearly basis in both volume of transactions and international market presence. It is one of Utah’s top exporting companies.

History of PMI Foods in Utah

PMI Foods began as a strategic international partnership between a U.S. company, Parker International, and a Brazilian company, Meridional Meat. Parker International was founded in Salt Lake City in 1992, while Meridional Meat was founded in 1995 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The initial partnership of the two companies was so successful that they opened an office in Guangzhou, China in the early 2000s. It was their first joint office in Asia and expansion to countries like Argentina and Hong Kong soon followed. Gov. Gary Herbert visited the Guangzhou office, along with a Utah trade delegation, in 2015.

In 2009, the two companies decided to launch a comprehensive brand to strengthen and solidify their international market presence. They began to operate under the name Parker-Migliorini International (PMI) and consolidated market operations under the new brand. Parker-Migliorini International, LLC was officially formed in late 2011.

Over the next several years, the company expanded further across Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. In 2014, Parker-Migliorini International began using the trade name PMI Foods to better reflect the products it sells. The growth of the company hasn’t stopped. In 2017 alone PMI Foods opened new offices in Japan, South Africa, Italy and Brazil.  This company truly embodies what it means to be an international company.

Importance of opening up markets to trade

To continue to facilitate growth opportunities for Utah companies like PMI Foods, it is important that future trade policies do not restrict the access of U.S. businesses to international markets.

Trade agreements should be updated, yes, but they should not be eliminated. New technology means the rules need to be updated to ensure that trade is fair, but new technology also means the world is flatter than it has ever been. A company in Vernal, Utah can sell its product to a customer in Shanghai with a click of a mouse.

Rather than turning our backs on global opportunities, we should look for ways that U.S. companies can compete and win in the global economy. Because that is just what Utah is doing. With more than $12 billion in exports in 2017 and one in four jobs tied to international business, trade matters in Utah.

Derek B. Miller is president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to helping Utah companies think, act and succeed globally.