MLA Says Aussie Beef Prepared For Eastern Competition

AUSTRALIA - The Australian beef industry is confident it can withstand market pressures in the key Japanese and Korean markets as the gradual re-entry of US beef into the two countries gathers pace.
calendar icon 31 May 2007
clock icon 4 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Meat & Livestock Australia Managing Director David Palmer today said that the Australian beef industry was in a strong position to maintain a solid presence in both Korea and Japan despite the increased competition bought about by the resumption of US beef imports.

US beef imports were immediately banned in both Japan and Korea following the discovery in the US of a cow infected with BSE in December 2003.

"This is all about differentiating Australian beef and making sure our product suits the taste requirements of Japanese consumers.

Meat & Livestock Australia Managing Director David Palmer

“There hasn’t been a day gone by in the last three and a half years when we haven’t been preparing for the return of US beef and positioning Australian beef in the best possible way in Korea and Japan,” Mr Palmer said.

“We anticipated some trade disruptions when the US returned to the North Asian market. Once trading conditions settle down we believe Australia’s investment and commitment to this region will continue to place us in a strong market position.

“Our focus over the last few years has been to form strategic partnerships with Japanese and Korean importers, food service and retailers and to build the reputation of Australia as being a supplier of consistent, quality and safe beef – we’ve taken our traditional marketing efforts to a new level of sophistication.”

MLA has instigated numerous programs and marketing campaigns in Japan and Korea aimed at maintaining Australia’s level of exports as much as possible following the US’s return.

Among the groundbreaking programs undertaken by MLA has been to use the science behind Meat Standards Australia (MSA) to help identify the preferred tastes of Japanese consumers.

“This is all about differentiating Australian beef and making sure our product suits the taste requirements of Japanese consumers. There is no other country in the world offering this sort of knowledge and expertise where consumers get a product that meets expectations every time,” Mr Palmer said.

MLA has also recently instigated a “category management” program whereby MLA works closely with major global retail chains to help them maintain a consistent supply of beef and to more effectively manage supply chain costs whilst growing the sales and profits of their beef category.

“An example of the category management program in action was the recent visit to Australia by representatives from a number of global retail chains who met with several beef exporters in an effort to gain more knowledge about our production systems and the products we can offer,” Mr Palmer said.

“This was a great example of how MLA is working closely with the industry to showcase Australian red meat while building relationships with key meat buyers.”

In addition to the Japan MSA and global category management programs MLA has also been undertaking extensive beef marketing and awareness campaigns in both Korea and Japan since the banning of the US from those markets.

In Japan the ongoing campaign featuring celebrity Japanese chef Harumi Kurihara, an Aussie Beef schools education program, print advertising, and information and training seminars for retailers have all combined to build awareness and trust of Aussie Beef.

In Korea several highly visible marketing initiatives have helped build the Australian beef brand Hoju Chungjung Woo to become the number one food brand in that country. Initiatives such as country-wide retail promotions aimed at increasing consumption, subway posters, magazine advertisements, extensive in-store sampling, strategic sponsorships and home TV shopping infomercials have all been ongoing and helping to raise awareness of the safety and quality attributes of Australian beef.

“Although Australian beef exports rose considerably during the period of US exemption, the last three years were certainly not normal trading conditions in Korea and Japan. With the US return to these important markets, we look forward to the resumption of a more stable trading environment in North Asia,” Mr Palmer said.

“The aim for all countries that export beef to Japan and Korea must be to maintain confidence in the safety of beef and to rebuild overall beef consumption in these important markets by winning back the consumers that were lost as a result of food safety concerns.”

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