Many of Japan’s small and middle-sized grocers are members of the Cooperative Grocer Chain (CGC), an association that helps them compete with larger retailers by enhancing their purchasing power and sharing marketing costs. CGC has 224 member companies operating 3,715 outlets throughout Japan.
USMEF recently showcased U.S. beef at a major CGC trade show at the Tokyo Big Site exhibition center. While the event had to be cancelled last year due to the earthquake and tsunami disasters, the 2012 edition was extremely well-attended. USMEF’s participation was supported by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Beef Checkoff Program.
U.S. beef had an especially prominent role at this year’s CGC event, as many retail representatives anticipate expanded market access and are anxious to obtain more reliable year-round supplies. CGC provided a special display and demonstration area near the trade show entrance dedicated to U.S. beef, where USMEF held several U.S. beef cutting demonstrations for attendees and introduced them to new merchandising ideas designed to help increase beef sales in their supermarkets.
“Because the CGC show attracts so many meat buyers from small and middle-sized supermarkets all over Japan, it is a very useful opportunity for USMEF to convey our marketing methods and merchandising strategies,” said USMEF-Japan Senior Marketing Director Takemichi Yamashoji. “Buyers’ reactions to our cutting demonstrations and samples were very enthusiastic, as they feel U.S. beef products can deliver added value and appeal to their clients’ meat cases.”
Through the first quarter of 2012, year-over-year beef (including variety meat) exports to Japan were down 7 percent in volume to 29,695 metric tons (65.4 million pounds), but increased 10 percent in value to $194 million.