As part of an ongoing campaign to encourage greater consumption of U.S. pork in Japan, USMEF held its annual “Gochipo Day” in honor of the U.S. pork mascot. Funded by the United Soybean Board and soybean associations from Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa and Illinois, the 2018 Gochipo Day featured special U.S. pork promotions at supermarkets across Japan.
“Gochipo is a mascot character that was created by USMEF to increase awareness and convey a familiar, positive image of American pork among Japanese consumers,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF director in Japan. “This year, Gochipo Day was strategically included as part of an overall campaign to expand U.S. pork space in retail meat cases as we entered the summer high-demand season. We especially wanted to showcase U.S. pork in places where Canada has a larger market share, with the goal of displacing Canadian pork.”
Leading up to Gochipo Day, USMEF worked with 2,500 retailers in Japan to offer contests and prizes to consumers. About 2,000 people who purchased U.S. pork at participating supermarkets and applied for campaign prizes won either packages of thick-cut U.S. pork loin or Gochipo tote bags.
On Gochipo Day, USMEF conducted several consumer events, including two with the AEON supermarket chain and one with Inageya, a leading regional supermarket chain based in the Kanto region, which includes the Greater Tokyo Area but encompasses six other prefectures beyond Tokyo. Gochipo was on hand at each location to attract shoppers’ attention.
According to managers at the two AEON stores, U.S. pork sales increased by 160 percent compared to the same day a year earlier, with Gochipo receiving much of the credit for the sales boost.
“Image is important in Japan, and the Gochipo character is tremendously popular and exudes a very positive image for U.S. pork, leading consumers to want to purchase it and try it,” explained Yamashoji. “The advantage for U.S. pork, of course, is that it is a high-quality product with excellent flavor. So once Japanese consumers taste it, they come back and purchase more.”