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Japan Trades Aussie Beef For US Products

02 September 2011

US - As prices for beef middle meats in the US have stalled with the economy, the beef checkoff is actively working in the US’ highest value beef export market to develop an appetite for these premium cuts and further diversify the audience for beef exports.

One of Japan’s leading supermarket chains, Ito Yokado, brought the message of the quality and value of US beef middle meats to consumers last week in a special promotion.

This was a significant shift for Ito Yokado, which previously had focused on Australian middle meats at its 174 store locations throughout Japan, but recently agreed to shift all of its middle meat purchases to US product.

“This was an important promotion for several reasons,” said Dan Halstrom, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president of global marketing, contractor to the Beef Checkoff Programme."

“First, this was a purchasing shift by Ito Yokado from Australian product to US middle meats. Second, this is an opportunity to help develop Japanese consumers’ interest in US middle meats, particularly at a time when prices in the US are stagnant or slumping."

"If we can cultivate an appetite for beef middle meats in Japan, that will open up new trade options and help us sustain both the volume and value of American beef exports.”

The Ito Yokado promotion, funded with support from the Beef Checkoff Programme, the USDA Market Access Programme (MAP) and corn checkoff funds from several states, was an extension of a month-long American Fair promotion that highlighted a broader range of food products from the US.

Ito Yokado staffed its stores with demonstrators to distribute samples of US strip loins, and was supported bhe promotion by training the demonstrators on proper cooking techniques, information on the quality and safety of US beef, and useful sales skills.

Research has shown that a properly trained demonstrator will produce, on average, 50.8 per cent higher sales than the average demonstrator.

Management of Ito Yokado reports very positive consumer reactions, primarily focused on their appreciation of – and surprise at – both the taste and tenderness of US beef strip loins.

Exports of US beef to Japan are up 50 per cent in volume and 54 per cent in value for the first six months of 2011 versus last year, reaching 170.4 million pounds valued at $416.3 million.

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