Building on efforts to educate Japanese consumers about the quality and unique flavor of U.S. lamb, USMEF launched an informational website in Japan and hosted a series of special dinners for chefs working at high-end restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka.
The American Lamb website describes the attributes, production methods, grading system and nutritional value of U.S. lamb, which regained access to the Japanese market in July 2018 after a 15-year absence.
“U.S. lamb can be up to three times the price of lamb from the Oceania region, which has the largest share in the Japanese market. When the market first reopened, we realized it would be difficult to gain market share instantly, especially in the foodservice sector, so we mapped out a very strategic approach with U.S. lamb aimed at the high-end customers.” explained USMEF Japan Director Takemichi Yamashoji.
“U.S. lamb is different from Australian and New Zealand lamb in terms of size, flavor and texture, so we must educate consumers about its advantages. Younger consumers especially must be introduced to U.S. lamb because many have never experienced it.”
Dinners in Tokyo and Osaka were funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP). A professional culinary association helped USMEF select locations and invitees for the dinners, which were limited to eight chefs at each gathering. Staff members of Sunrex, a Japanese company that imports U.S. lamb products, were in attendance to exchange information with the chefs, who sampled U.S. lamb dishes and asked questions about the product and its availability.