"It's the premium product that everybody wants," says Effertz, North Dakota Beef Commission chairman, who made the trip with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
The U.S. market share of beef exports to Japan grew by more than 2.5% from 2009 to 2010 and reached value levels not seen since before the markets were closed to U.S. beef in 2003 after the discovery of BSE in a dairy cow in Washington state.
Consumers are eating more beef in part due to the rising cost of seafood and Japan is importing more beef because its domestic production is declining.
There's plenty of competition for imports. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico are all vying for a share of the market.
But the U.S. really has a corner on the quality beef market," Effertz says.
"While the Australians provide an overwhelming volume of beef to Japan, they do not compete in the quality and consistency of U.S. Beef," he says.