In April, USMEF representatives offered tasting samples of thick-cut pork and beef at a supermarket trade show in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo. Hoping to get a greater share of Japan’s large barbecue market during the upcoming summer season, the USMEF event built on steps taken in 2016 to increase demand for thick-cut items in Japanese supermarkets. Most pork and beef sold in Japan is cut thinly, leaving customers inexperienced in preparing dishes using thick cuts.
Event attendees were shown how to cut and cook thick-cut meat, while a new sticker on supermarkets’ thick-cut meat packs is designed to direct consumers to a website for cooking tips. Items to be affected include pork loins, cellar trimmed (CT) butts, bellies and tenderloins.
‘Communicating with consumers’
In Hiroshima Prefecture, western Honshu, USMEF has teamed up with Spark, a leading regional supermarket chain, in a campaign to promote the nutritional value of US pork and beef. Some 2,500 samples were distributed through funding from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Market Access Programme as well as the Pork and Beef Checkoff Programs.
“Japanese consumers are eating more beef and pork than ever before and we anticipate further increases in the future,” Hiroshi Kuwabara, PR representative of Spark, told GlobalMeatNews. “This event was our first aimed at communicating with consumers and not offering items for sale, leaving our customers with no pressure to buy.”
Under the banner ‘Fureai Kenko’ (communication and health in Japanese), USMEF representatives have promoted healthy and innovative ways to cook US pork and beef products stocked by Spark, working in in-store booths.
“It was a chance for our customers to learn how to cook or season meat products that were new to them,” said Kuwabara, adding that Spark hopes to repeat the event partnership with USMEF next year.
USMEF Japan director Takemichi Yamashoji said: “Strengthening US red meat sales in regional markets is one of the most important strategies in Japan, and USMEF continuously makes efforts in cooperation with influential industry players. Spark has carried US pork and beef products for a long time and we were more than eager to get involved in this event.”
Meanwhile, in Hyogo Prefecture, near Kyoto, USMEF is collaborating with Miyako Hotels & Resorts. From May to September, the hotel’s beer garden will offer US beef cuts and pork belly at its BBQ events.