Heartland Mission Strengthens Red Meat Trade Relationship in Japan

Kentucky Sees Great Potential in the World’s Most Competitive Market

American producers traveled with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to Japan this month to learn more about the world’s most competitive red meat import market and demonstrate their commitment to serving it. The visit came on the heels of the trade agreement that would bring Japanese tariffs on U.S. beef, pork and other products, in line with tariffs of our competitors.

The Heartland Team, which included KyCorn’s Laura Knoth, got a first-hand look at our leading export market, learned about its potential, and what this market can mean to rural America.

They met with key players in the Japanese trade, toured retail and restaurant sectors, explored Japanese domestic production, and gained a better understanding of the potential in the market.

“Japan is a critical export market for us,” Knoth said, “and we demonstrated commitment to serve this market with safe, quality meat.”

Taking the Heartland Team to Japan also provided an opportunity to demonstrate to team members how USMEF works in export markets, and why.

“KyCorn has supported USMEF for several years to boost corn demand through red meat exports,” remarked Knoth. “Understanding the needs and intricacies of each market allows USMEF to work with buyers to drive demand for U.S. beef and pork. Relationships and partnerships are so important, and I got to see that first hand.”

While in Japan, the team received market briefings and met with top people in the red meat industry of Japan and the U.S.

One event the team participated in was an “urban BBQ” event, which highlighted the premium flavor of U.S. red meat for Japanese consumers. American culture and cooking styles are gaining traction as popular food concepts in Japan, in particular, American BBQ, as grills can be placed on balconies and rooftops where in-home cooking space is limited.

Retail visits confirmed that brand-conscious Japanese consumers seek out and trust high-quality, safe products that are often backed by a story.

In Japan, the U.S. pork story is told by its ambassador Gochipo, who frequents retail promotions and is very popular with children. Consumers are well aware of Gochipo. In a recent digital campaign, 90% of participants said that they wanted to purchase U.S. pork after learning about it from Gochipo.

“I learned that knowing where product comes from and how it is produced is important with Japanese consumers,” said Knoth. “It is a fascinating and sophisticated market and consumers want assurances about the safety and quality of imported products.”