American ribs in Chile

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Aaron Putze)

Sabor, USA!

October 1, 2023 | Aaron Putze, APR

Chileans are developing a big-time taste for barbecue and Iowa-grown beef, and that bodes well for increased U.S. exports to the South American country.

“Sabor, USA” is code in Chile for “U.S. beef has great flavor!” Beef brisket produced by U.S. farmers is a strong seller in Chilean supermarkets.

It’s also a staple at Curacaribs Smokehouse. The locally owned eatery is growing in popularity among Chilean consumers. Known for its slow-smoking and savory sauces, Curacarbis serves up generous portions of barbecued spareribs, brisket, chicken and turkey in a casual setting (indoors and out).

Iowa meat at Curacaribs in Chile

“People are getting a taste for barbecue in Chile and few do it better than Curacaribs,” says Sebastian Gre, program coordinator for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

A Chilean native and culinary chef, Gre says Curacaribs is gaining a loyal following because of the “really good technique and flavor” of their products. The company is also nimble. When restaurant traffic ground to a halt in 2021 due to the pandemic, Curacaribs ramped up production of its smoked, prepackaged meats. Sales soared and have remained strong even as the pandemic has waned.

Among its most popular offerings is beef brisket sourced from Tama, Iowa-based Iowa Premium Beef.

“Barbecue is popular in Chile and that’s really good news for U.S. farmers,” says Gre, who served as an executive chef for Weber Grills Chile before joining the USMEF team.

“You often start with the retailers when looking to expand market share,” he added. “But restaurants like Curacaribs is also offering a ton of opportunity.”

Editor’s note: Midwest soybean farmers traveled to Chile on a weeklong trade mission in early June. While there, farmers reassured soybean buyers that the U.S. will have large quantities of soybean meal competitively priced and ready for export. They also saw the markets and ports that use and transport soybeans.