Background Banner

USMEF Promotes U.S. Lamb at Consumer Event for First Time in Japan

Published: Feb 06, 2023
As foodservice rebounds in Japan, USMEF targets lamb enthusiasts to help grow awareness and develop high-end demand for top-quality U.S. lamb

The Lamb Festival returned recently to Tokyo after a two-year absence attracting a record turnout of 45,000 enthusiasts to the two-day event. The pandemic had caused event cancellations the past two years and with foodservice on the rebound, USMEF promoted U.S. lamb at a large-scale consumer event for the first time in Japan.

U.S. lamb has faced major obstacles since gaining access to the high-value Japan market in 2018. Japanese consumers are largely unfamiliar with the quality attributes of grain-fed lamb and with the pandemic affecting foodservice in general and upscale restaurants in particular, demand for U.S. lamb has weakened.

“High-end restaurants are recovering and consumer events are returning. We are looking at new ways to build consumer demand for U.S. lamb with a focus on high-end retail and restaurants,” says Tatsuru Kasatani, marketing director, USMEF Japan. “U.S. lamb is superior in taste and size but is also higher priced than the competition. We are currently focusing on direct consumer outreach.”

With a large group of self-proclaimed enthusiasts in one place during the Lamb Festival, USMEF worked to build awareness and promote a cooking seminar that featured U.S. lamb. Working with USMEF member Superior Farms and its Japanese importer, 40 festival attendees were selected to attend a cooking demonstration and tasting event in which three lamb dishes were featured – lamb rillette, lamb soup and lamb fricassee.

Surveys showed the participants were very impressed with U.S. lamb’s taste and asked questions about the restaurants and retail outlets that carry U.S. lamb. Attendees also posted photos and comments to their social media accounts. Funding support was provided by USDA’s Market Access Program.

Attendees registered for a cooking seminar during the Lamb Festival in Tokyo, with prize drawings for those who posted photos to their social media accounts

USMEF selected 40 participants from the festival to attend a cooking demonstration and tasting event