Audio: Ag Leaders Visit Sendai, Japan – a Terrific Destination for U.S. Beef Tongue

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The USMEF Heartland Team, a group of 31 producers and other ag industry leaders from 16 states, recently returned from Japan where they met with importers and other key buyers of U.S. red meat and took part in U.S. beef and pork promotional activities.

A unique aspect of the 2019 Heartland Team’s mission to Japan was a visit to Sendai, a city located northeast of Tokyo that is especially well-known for its appetite for U.S. beef tongue. John Hinners, USMEF vice president for industry relations, reports on the Heartland Team’s tour of a beef tongue processing plant in Sendai. The group also attended a dinner with food industry representatives who are members of the Sendai Beef Tongue Association. Hinners notes that with the U.S. and Japan having reached an agreement in principle on red meat trade, Japanese buyers are excited at the prospect of obtaining U.S. beef tongue at a lower tariff rate. Japan’s tariff rate on U.S. beef tongue is currently 12.8%, but just 5.7% for countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Hinners adds that the same company operating the beef tongue processing plant also purchases U.S. pork, which is processed and used in hot-pot dishes.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.