US Producers Experience Great Enthusiasm for US Beef in Japan, Korea

JAPAN & SOUTH KOREA - A team of beef producers from Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado joined USMEF in Japan and South Korea last week to get a better understanding of the two largest value destinations for US beef exports and identify potential areas for further growth.
calendar icon 18 May 2017
clock icon 4 minute read

A cutting demonstration featuring US beef was part of a trade seminar hosted by USMEF in Japan

The delegation included representatives of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), the Texas Beef Council (TBC) and the Colorado Beef Council (CBC). Led by USMEF staff, the producers examined market conditions and met with key international customers in both countries. They also participated in promotional activities organized by USMEF, visited cold storage facilities packed with US beef products and toured retail outlets to see how US beef is merchandised and sold to consumers.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience because we had heard a lot about these markets and you can get a vision of it, but until you actually see it in person you can’t really imagine how well our checkoff dollars are being used – it’s a great investment,” said Brett Morris, chairman of the Cattleman’s Beef Board and a cattle producer from Oklahoma.

“Consumers are enthusiastic about US beef in both Japan and Korea. They love beef and they are willing to pay for it. And there is a lot of respect for USMEF staff and what they have been doing here.”

The Japan visit included a briefing at the US Embassy in Tokyo, a US beef trade seminar for Japanese retailers and importers, and a tour of Nippon Ham’s cold storage facility. Team members met with major buyers of US beef and were introduced to Japanese consumers during a USMEF “Urban BBQ” consumer event, where they shared information about US beef production and learned about consumer demand. To explore trends in Japanese dining, the team visited yakiniku and shabu-shabu restaurants.

“USMEF has been promoting the use of thicker cuts of US beef and we noticed that in a plot of places,” said Jackie Means, a Texas beef producer and TBC member.

“The exciting thing for us is that all of the restaurants we went to were serving US beef. Another exciting thing is that, in talking to retail and restaurant managers in both countries, there has been a thickening of traditional dishes. They are using US beef and choosing thicker cuts. This is a winning move because it means they are ultimately using more US product.”

In Korea, the team attended a briefing at the US Embassy in Seoul, then toured the distribution center of Lotte Mart, a major Korean retailer. They also toured a Costco store, where they saw firsthand results of that company’s recent decision to begin selling chilled US beef exclusively.

The US producer delegation participated in “Urban BBQ,” a consumer event in Japan promoting US beef

“Both Japan and Korea have to import roughly 60 per cent of their food, so they are very important markets and there is competition, but we saw how USMEF works in both countries to promote our beef,” said Todd Inglee, a Colorado beef producer and chairman of the CBC.

“One of the big challenges in Asia is displacing Australian beef, and we were able to witness success at the Costco in Korea. You see how consumers react to US beef and how enthused they are at the Costco meat department. It’s dominated by US beef and shoppers were just continuously picking up our beef products.”

Taking part in a US beef trade seminar held in Japan allowed the producers to meet Japanese retail buyers, distributors, trade media and US packers. The focus of the seminar was on providing customers of US beef new ideas to merchandise chuck and round cuts at retail and expand shelf space, as well as market underutilized cuts. The seminar included a cutting demonstration that featured several US beef cuts.

Japanese retailers and importers learn about US beef during a trade seminar hosted by USMEF and attended by cattle producers from Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado

“From a beef selling point of view, it is very favorable to use many and various kind of cuts to utilize the whole beef carcass,” explained Mr Morris, who noted that shoulder clod, top round and flat round were highlighted.

A tasting followed, featuring US beef round flat, shoulder clod, deep fried beef cutlet top round and beef stir-fry with cabbage.

The team participated in a Texas-themed cooking class and contest on Friday and were scheduled to return to the US on Saturday.

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