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Retailers Connect with U.S. Red Meat Suppliers at Supermarket Trade Show in Japan

Connecting member companies to Japanese retailers while highlighting the advantages of U.S. pork and beef, USMEF participated in the National Supermarket Association of Japan’s (NSAJ) annual trade show in the Tokyo suburb of Chiba. Funded by the USDA Market Access Program, the National Pork Board, the Texas Beef Council, the Idaho Beef Council and the Beef Checkoff Program, the show included a USMEF display booth where U.S. pork and beef dishes relatively new to the Japan market were shared and promoted.

Representatives of supermarket chains and other retail outlets in Japan sample U.S. pork and beef at USMEF’s Supermarket Trade Show booth

Representatives of supermarket chains and other retail outlets in Japan sample U.S. pork and beef at USMEF’s Supermarket Trade Show booth

The three-day Supermarket Trade Show attracted 2,176 vendors and 88,412 visitors.

“NSAJ is a nationwide retail industry organization with more than 1,200 member companies and its purpose is to provide updated information on food and distribution,” explained Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF director in Japan. “To share information about U.S. pork and beef at the show, we partnered with four USMEF members who do business in Japan to share dishes at our booth. We introduced our 2019 promotion plans for U.S. pork and beef, with the goal being to let retailers and supermarket chains know that we are working to help increase sales of U.S. red meat all over Japan by promoting these products.”

Visitors to the trade show take a virtual tour of a U.S. cattle ranch and feedlot as part of a special feature offered by USMEF

Visitors to the trade show take a virtual tour of a U.S. cattle ranch and feedlot as part of a special feature offered by USMEF

USMEF served roasted U.S. pork and beef to prospective customers at a special reception at the trade show. Themed, “Eat America: Dynamic Taste of America,” the reception was attended by 1,000 representatives of NSAJ member companies. As a bonus, Gochipo, USMEF’s U.S. pork mascot, appeared on stage to promote U.S. pork and pork products. Gochipo was also enlisted to help facilitate a special lottery game held during the reception.

U.S. pork mascot Gochipo makes an appearance at the Supermarket Trade Show to promote U.S. pork and pork products

U.S. pork mascot Gochipo makes an appearance at the Supermarket Trade Show to promote U.S. pork and pork products

At the trade show, USMEF introduced the “Three-Star (Mitsuboshi)” concept, which is designed to promote the quality and flavor of U.S. pork and pork products through original three-star recipes. One method allows consumers to produce U.S. pork cutlets and steaks that are juicy and flavorful through low temperature cooking. Another method features U.S. pork back ribs, traditionally popular for grilling, as a potential new item for deep frying.

USMEF also introduced Mitsuboshi Rich Sauce, a U.S. pork-specialized steak sauce developed by a well-known French chef.

A special reception during the Supermarket Trade Show in Japan featured U.S. pork and beef dishes

A special reception during the Supermarket Trade Show in Japan featured U.S. pork and beef dishes

“Several retailers at the show requested information on the cooking methods and the pork sauce for future sales promotions,” said Yamashoji. “On the pork side, we had some meetings with supermarket chains and distributors in which we encouraged them to switch from Canadian pork to U.S. pork. We think we had some success and we will continue to work on that goal.”

For U.S. beef, USMEF built a display titled, “American beef virtual tour: Farm to Table,” where visitors were able to see an example of an authentic American ranch and feedlot through a virtual reality video program. The one-hour video, produced by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association through support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the Iowa Beef Industry Council, presented U.S. beef production practices.

The farm-to-table video supplemented a separate video presentation on U.S. beef pound steak, roast beef and gourmet hamburgers shown at the USMEF booth. USMEF also featured samples of Idaho finger steak and karaage-style U.S. beef finger steak at its booth.

“For most Japanese consumers, hamburgers are exclusively a restaurant menu item and rarely prepared at home,” said Yamashoji. “At this show, we showed how to use U.S. beef steaks commonly found at supermarket meat counters for creating hamburgers in home kitchens. We think this is another way to stimulate additional U.S. beef sales in Japan.”