A three-day whirlwind tour of the Japanese pork industry this week provided a team representing the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) with an in-depth view of U.S. pork in Japan from processors to retail to food service to consumer outreach.
The 15-person team, led by Mankato, Minnesota-based Minnesota Soybean Executive Director Tom Slunecka and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Vice President Joel Schreurs of Tyler, Minn., undertook an ambitious schedule guided by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) team in Japan that included:
“With our market development in these foreign countries, having people in offices like the USMEF is very important,” Schreurs said. “The customers need a resource so they can get information about our products or to be able to promote our products. This is another way that we are able to add value to our products.”
“The support that Minnesota Soybean has shown for U.S. pork in Japan has been outstanding,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, senior marketing director for USMEF-Japan. “This visit was designed to show the breadth of programs that the Pork Checkoff, the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and Minnesota Soybean have supported here, ranging from the point of arrival for pork shipments to processors, retailers, food service outlets and a very active blogger community.”
The session with the Japanese bloggers was a demonstration of the interest they have in U.S. pork as well as the immediate response that the social media initiative can generate. The group of 14 bloggers in the program reaches a broad audience of Japanese homemakers who look to them for information and advice on food selection and preparation.
“Social media is an integral part of our consumer communications program,” said Tazuko Hijikata, USMEF-Japan’s senior manager for consumer affairs. In addition to programs it develops for independent bloggers, USMEF-Japan utilizes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for promotion of U.S. red meat. One how-to YouTube video featuring Yukimasa demonstrating preparation of a recipe with U.S. pork generated more than 245,000 viewings in its first month.
Other members of the Minnesota Soybean team that visited Japan this week include:
Lee Erickson of Mountain Lake, Doug and Tom Frisch of Dumont, Paul Gorman of North Mankato, Mark Herickhoff of Elrosa, David Lanners of Minneota, Dan Lemke, director of communications for Minnesota Soybean, Mark Lenort of Fairmont, Drew Parsley of Warroad, Richard Syverson of Benson, Bruce Tiffany of Redwood Falls, Kyle Vig of Fosston and Jonathan Waibel of Baudette.
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