Working to reintroduce the taste and quality of U.S. lamb to Taiwan’s foodservice industry, USMEF showcased high-quality cuts for some of the country’s most influential food bloggers. USMEF also invited leading importers to a product tasting and kicked off a branding campaign at the Taipei International Food Show.
Davis Wu, USMEF director in Taiwan, said last year’s reopening of the market to U.S. lamb after a 13-year absence set the stage for the 2017 promotional efforts.
“U.S. lamb is famous for its flavorful, juicy quality without gamey taste, and the grain-fed finish makes U.S. lamb stand out from its competitors,” said Wu. “There is real potential to grow demand for U.S. lamb in Taiwan and the first step was getting the market reopened, which happened in 2016. The next step is getting U.S. lamb in front of importers, foodservice companies and consumers to let them know it is available and that there are many great ways to prepare and serve it. In a way, it seems that Taiwanese are still somewhat unfamiliar with this delicacy, and USMEF is determined to change that.”
USMEF has attracted attention for U.S. lamb by creating a “high-end” image and promoting the brand “U.S. Blue Diamond Lamb.”
At the Taipei show, USMEF distributed a “U.S. Blue Diamond Lamb” informational brochure while displaying cuts of U.S. lamb from Superior Farms and Mountain States Rosen. The featured items included foreshank, shortloin, ribs, legs, rack saddle, loin, hindshank and rib fingers.
“We conducted tastings that featured boneless shoulder and rib fingers to demonstrate the unique flavor of U.S. lamb,” said Wu. “After the tastings, responses from all of the food industry sectors and consumers were very positive. Some foodservice representatives have shown interest and asked for further information from U.S. lamb importers.”
Immediately following the Taipei show, USMEF conducted a U.S. Lamb Showcase for Taiwanese food bloggers. The event, designed to share the attributes of U.S. lamb while also allowing bloggers to taste various cuts, was held at Shen Yen Teppanyaki, a popular restaurant in Yilan County in northern Taiwan.
“The objective of the ‘Blue Diamond Lamb’ campaign is to forge a high-quality image for U.S. lamb,” explained Wu. “When the blue diamond was set up on the table beside U.S. lamb at the blogger showcase, it grabbed everyone’s attention immediately, which was our goal.”
Chefs at Shen Yen Teppanyaki prepared a variety of dishes for the showcase, including U.S. lamb shoulder pack with foie gras sauce, U.S. lamb T-bone with truffle and mango sauce, U.S. lamb riblet fish soup and U.S. lamb rib chops.
The Taiwanese bloggers, some of which have up to 20,000 daily viewers, had very positive things to say about the dishes they sampled.
“After the showcase and the articles about tasting session were posted online, a number of company representatives in the foodservice sector showed interest and began asking for more information about U.S. lamb,” said Wu. “As a result of that great response, USMEF invited the top 10 importers in Taiwan for a tasting of U.S. Blue Diamond Lamb. This is another important step toward familiarizing the Taiwanese people with a great product that is new to many of them.”
U.S. lamb lost access to Taiwan following a U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in December 2003. The market closure was due to concerns related to scrapie, a disease similar to BSE. Asian markets that remain closed to U.S. lamb include Japan and South Korea.