Promoting the quality and flavor of U.S. beef and pork to one of the fastest growing foodservice sectors in Japan, USMEF recently participated in the Yakiniku Business Fair, the largest annual trade show for the yakiniku industry. Funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Texas Beef Council, the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff, USMEF offered samples of several U.S. beef and pork dishes, along with information about the attributes and availability of U.S. red meat.
A video of USMEF’s efforts, which included a photogenic – or “Instagrammable” – display booth, can be seen here.
More than 200 companies and organizations exhibited products used by yakiniku restaurants and catering services, including meat and seasoning, equipment and kitchen facilities.
An estimated 21,500 people visited the two-day show.
“Japan has been going through a sort of meat boom, during which beef and pork have become more popular, and yakiniku-style dining is a big part of that,” explained Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF director in Japan. “Our goal during this year’s Yakiniku Business Fair was to suggest new merchandising and menu ideas to restaurants that specialize in meat.”
Dishes highlighted at the show were U.S. pork cheese teji karubi, a Korean-style barbecue dish, and U.S. beef pound steak.
“Steaks in Japan are typically 150 to 200 grams (one-third to one-half pound), but we came out with the idea of a 454-gram steak, which is a pound, as the ideal way to enjoy the taste and quality of thick-cut U.S. beef steaks,” Yamashoji explained.
The attractive booth and tasting samples attracted many visitors who took photos and shared them on various social media sites.
“It is common for consumers in Japan to snap photos of food and share them with friends on Instagram and other social media sites,” said Yamashoji. “We saw a lot of people sharing photos of our display, and that’s important because many of our competitors were exhibiting, including Australian and South American meat exporters.”
Meanwhile, USMEF staff capitalized on the event by meeting with key buyers from Japan’s yakiniku industry. A team of foodservice buyers from China was also hosted by USMEF and received a comprehensive look at how yakiniku businesses are utilizing U.S. beef and pork.