Leaders of the U.S. Meat Export Federation traveled to Tokyo last week to mark the 45th anniversary of the USMEF Japan office. They met with meat industry leaders, hosted a meat recipe session for Japanese cooking teachers and social media influencers, visited displays of U.S. meat in grocery stores and held a 45th anniversary seminar for 200 of the country’s meat industry representatives. USMEF Chairman Mark Swanson, founder of Tru Grit KGMS Enterprises in Fort Collins, Colorado, shared his insights into what leaders learned from the Japan trip.
“We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet with many of our trading partners and learn more about how we can help and how much we value the relationship and how our products had tremendous value in the market for the past 45 years,” Swanson said. “And we’ve had the opportunity to visit some retail outlets and see the U.S. product on display in the supermarket chains and learn from our importing customers of the value that they see in our product and how we might be able to continue to grow the demand for exports in the market.”
USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said the 45-year relationship has built a loyalty on U.S. red meat in Japan.
“Japan is a very loyal market- Asia in general is a very loyal market,” Halstrom said. “But it’s still a very much a businessman’s market. I mean, it’s not easy to get started in Japan. But once you do and once you supply what you say you’re going to supply in terms of quality and consistency the market is very loyal to our supply source. So that’s one of the big takeaways, markets go up and down in price, but the Japanese market is always here buying on a consistent basis.”
USMEF Chair-elect Dean Meyer, a livestock and grain producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, talked about the messaging that U.S. farmers are taking to Japanese consumers.
“There are 20 or 25 different countries that want shelf space here, but the campaign here that really differentiates U.S. meat from meat around the world is it’s safe, reliable, and tasty,” Meyer said. “And what we’re really pushing now the campaign is it’s raised on family farms- multi-generational farms- that care about their land, their livestock. We want to pass it on to the next generation. And that’s a huge success here is it’s really getting the attention of the consumers here.”
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