U.S. beef producers and industry representatives were given a close look at USMEF’s efforts to increase exports to two key Asian markets during the 2019 Beef Leadership Team’s recent visit to Japan and Taiwan. With funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program, USMEF staff provided an in-depth analysis of each market, included the team in several of its promotional events, set up meetings with beef buyers and led visits to retail outlets.
USMEF is a subcontractor of the Beef Checkoff Program.
Taking part in the 2019 Beef Leadership Team’s seven-day mission to Asia were the chairman and vice chairman of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) as well as representatives from the state beef councils of Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.
In Taiwan, the team visited several retailers in the capital city of Taipei that sell red meat, including family-owned and operated Tomas Gourmet, a meat shop with an innovative branding program that targets high-end consumers. The team also represented the U.S. beef industry at a meeting with Meatstore, a high-quality U.S. beef distributor serving Taiwan’s foodservice sector.
“What we wanted to show the team is that Taiwan has a very diverse retail sector and a booming foodservice industry,” said Davis Wu, USMEF director in Taiwan. “We took them to Jason’s Gourmet, Carrefour, Costco and RT Mart – each offering a different type of retail environment. They also toured a traditional urban wet market to help them experience the retail transition that has happened and is happening in cities like Taipei.”
Restaurant visits were also part of the mission. At the Wen-Ding Hot Pot restaurant, CBB Chairman Chuck Coffey and his wife awarded the owner a certificate for properly naming U.S. beef cuts on the menu while the team interacted with popular Taiwanese food bloggers who later posted about their experiences with U.S. beef producers.
At Jack Brother’s Steak House, team members participated in a “Big Eater” contest, competing against a champion professional competitive eater from Taiwan and several others who raced to finish a large portion of U.S. prime rib.
“It was a fun and lively event for everyone involved and it really helped boost the image of the U.S. beef producer here in Taiwan,” said Wu.
In Japan, the team participated in a variety of activities including a consumer steak cooking class featuring chef and social media celebrity Rika Yukimasa. The team had a meeting with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to discuss the current trade environment and went on tours of retail stores with a number of U.S. beef buyers.
A trade seminar and cutting demonstration featuring U.S. beef Idaho finger steaks, a Weber beef grilling event that was broadcast and reported on social media channels and a tour of the Tokyo Meat Market were also part of the Japan portion of the Beef Leadership Team’s mission.
“The producers really left a positive impression on Japanese consumers and U.S. beef buyers with personal stories of their ranches and their work back home in the U.S.,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF director in Japan. “There was a lot of talk about trade and the hope for a U.S.-Japan trade agreement, but learning about U.S. beef and how it is produced really was the highlight during these interactions.”