U.S. Beef Group Spends on Ads, Barbecues to Woo Japan Consumers

USA - The U.S. Meat Export Federation is running full page ads in Japanese newspapers that cost as much as 79 million yen ($681,000) each to convince consumers American beef is safe to eat. The biggest supermarket chains don't buy it.
calendar icon 27 September 2006
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Repairing the image of U.S. beef after it was banned in Japan because of mad cow disease has fallen to Philip Seng, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export group, which has Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. among its members. He said in an interview the U.S. industry may have lost $5 billion since Japan first imposed the ban in December 2003.

The ad spending, along with barbecue events and a new website are part of Seng's strategy to convince Aeon Co. and Seven & I Holdings Co., Japan's two biggest supermarket chains, to put U.S. beef back on the shelves after the government lifted the ban in July. He says demand is growing and supply shortages are a problem.

"Japanese traders are interested in importing U.S. beef; the challenge is providing sustainable supply,'' Seng, 57, said at a news conference in Tokyo. "The suppliers weren't ready for the market reopening.''

Source: Bloomberg.com

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