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Audio: New Dishes Help Distinguish U.S. Beef, Pork from Growing Competition at FOODEX in Tokyo

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This year’s FOODEX trade show in Tokyo, the largest food show in Asia and one of the largest in the world, attracted an estimated 80,500 visitors – a 10 percent increase over last year. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Vice President for International Marketing Programs Greg Hanes says growth in the number of countries using FOODEX to promote red meat was quite noticeable, too. He says the competitive vibe can be credited to the fact that many countries have entered trade agreements with Japan while the U.S. still has not.

Despite the competition, USMEF was able to successfully promote U.S. beef and pork by offering new dishes and fresh ideas to importers, distributors, processors, foodservice operators and retailers from Japan and several other Asian markets. The effort included connecting USMEF members to potential customers and offering tasting samples to thousands of visitors at the USA Pavilion.

USMEF’s participation at FOODEX was funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program and the National Pork Board.

Ralph Loos: The U.S. Meat Export Federation recently participated in the annual FOODEX trade show in Japan. USMEF Vice President for International Marketing Programs Greg Hanes says that along with connecting members to potential customers, USMEF staff introduced new U.S. beef and pork dishes to thousands of visitors during the four-day show.

Greg Hanes: This year one of the new items we introduced, and we did this with support from the Idaho Beef Council, was Idaho Finger Steaks, which are basically thin slices of beef that are then battered, breaded and fried – kind of like a chicken-fried steak, but these are bite-sized morsels. We’ve been working with a renown cooking instructor there to come up with some good recipes that fit the Japanese palate, and so FOODEX was a great chance to introduce that and see how the buyers liked it. We were showing some of the different cooking styles for pork, we are really focusing on trying to move more loin there, so we introduced some of the slow, low-temperature cooking methods for pork items, even in the traditional Japanese way. There was a tonkatsu, which is a breaded pork cutlet, but we did it in a low, slow style cooking and it really brings out the flavor and tenderness of the product.

Ralph Loos: Hanes noted the significant increase in competition at the 2019 FOODEX show, as more and more countries begin to recognize the demand for red meat in the Japanese market.

Greg Hanes: One of the biggest challenges we are facing in Japan is the fact that the U.S. isn’t in a lot of these free trade agreements that our competitors are. A big example of that was Canada, they had a booth at FOODEX for the first time in probably 10 years. You also saw new competitors that are trying to gain better access there, as well. Uruguay was very active there and were right near our booth extolling the virtues of their products.

Ralph Loos: For more information, please visit usmef.org. For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Ralph Loos.