Audio: U.S. Industry Ready to Reclaim Red Meat Market Share in Japan

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Jesse Austin, USMEF vice president of marketing, recently returned from meetings in Japan with importers, distributors and other customers of U.S. pork and beef, which he discusses in the attached audio report.

While this was Austin’s first international market visit since joining USMEF in October, he has previous experience in Japan from his time as general manager of Smithfield Foods’ Tokyo office. He says the outlook in Japan is very optimistic now that the new U.S.-Japan trade agreement is in effect, bringing import tariff rates for U.S. pork and beef in line with those imposed on major competitors. Austin notes that closing the tariff gap allows discussions with existing and prospective customers to focus on the quality and consistency of U.S. red meat products.

The U.S.-Japan trade agreement entered into force on Jan. 1, and a second round of tariff rate reductions will take place April 1 when the new Japanese fiscal year begins. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) provides specific details on the agreement’s red meat trade provisions in these fact sheets:

USTR fact sheet on U.S. beef and beef products to Japan
USTR fact sheet on U.S. pork and pork products to Japan


Joe Schuele: Jesse Austin joined the U.S. Meat Export Federation this fall as its new Vice President of Marketing. In this USMEF report, Austin discusses his recent meetings with importers and other customers of U.S red meat in Japan, a market where he has previous experience and where the business climate is very positive given the new U.S. Japan Trade Agreement.

Jesse Austin: I joined USMEF in October and I came from Smithfield Foods. My background for the past 17 years, I’ve represented U.S. pork packers’ segment. With Smithfield foods I actually did two years in Tokyo when we opened the Tokyo based office. At the time we anticipated TPP to happen, so we were trying to be proactive and put some boots on the ground there. So, I served two years there working directly with customers to learn how they’re using American products, how the products work for them, and how we can improve our service. In early December, I got an opportunity to meet with various representatives from the Japan Trade in Tokyo and this ranged from distributors to U.S. based packers and processors and end users there in Japan. Of course, our visit coming right as the trade agreement was being inked. So, a lot of optimism in the market, a lot of excitement to once again have a leveled playing field and to have the tariff disadvantage behind us. That optimism not only from the end user, but among our staff there in Tokyo, everybody is really excited about the future in Japan, excited to be aggressive with some of the market activities, where were going to employ a lot more face time with the end users and we are going to coordinate with suppliers and distributors to recapture some of the market share that we’ve lost. Having the trade situation resolved does put the focus back on the product itself and the message that we relayed to everybody we met with historically Japan has been the most consistent and reliable trading partner for American agriculture and we intend to keep it that way.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele

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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.