As COVID-19 shifted consumption from foodservice to retail in 2020, USMEF adapted its marketing strategy for U.S. lamb in Japan.
New promotional materials were developed, and USMEF conducted the first in-store retail promotions for U.S. lamb since the Japanese market reopened in 2018.
A December activity at 11 high-end retail stores operated by Queen’s Isetan included a U.S. lamb showcase and a contest for shoppers who purchased U.S. lamb cuts. A promoter supported a U.S. lamb showcase and emphasized the unique taste of U.S. lamb and the food safety aspect of the product.
“We want Japanese consumers to know how rich the taste of U.S. lamb is compared to Australian and New Zealand lamb,” said Tatsuru Kasatani, USMEF senior marketing manager in Japan, who added than boneless round cuts have been the most popular items at retail. Kasatani said the cuts are typically marinated, sliced and grilled. Frenched rack of lamb is also a popular choice.
“High-end restaurants have been our focus but foodservice businesses slowed dramatically in 2020. But the retail sector became very active and some retailers were interested in offering more U.S. lamb products,” explained Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF director in Japan. “Australian lamb supplies also tightened, creating this new opportunity for U.S. lamb at retail.”
Kasatani noted that, along with Queen’s Isetan, U.S. lamb is appearing on shelves of other of high-end supermarkets, such as Tokyu Presse, Hankyu Department Store, Suzukiya and the Osaka Izumi Coop.