Nebraska beef producers had an opportunity to interact with consumers in Japan recently as part of a Nebraska Commodity Group Trade Team. The trip was coordinated through the U.S. Meat Export Federation, with partial funding from the Nebraska Beef Council and the beef checkoff.
Two NBC representatives were part of the Trade Team, which met with Japanese consumers during a demonstration at a retail store. Ann Bruntz of Friend and Dave Hamilton of Thedford, who serve on the Beef Council board, flew to Japan as part of the effort, along with representatives from the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Soybean Board.
The Nebraska team had briefings at the USMEF Tokyo office and the U.S. Embassy, and participated in a beef storefront event at the Seiyu LIVIN Yokosuka Outlet, where U.S. beef was sampled by consumers. Tours of other facilities where U.S. beef is sold and sampling of traditional Japanese dishes with U.S. beef were also conducted. Tour members also visited markets to review the marketing efforts of competitors.
"What a tremendous opportunity to visit and mingle with the Japanese consumer. We were met with hundreds of hungry consumers at the retail store. I feel the Japanese consumer really likes our tender, wholesome beef from Nebraska," says Bruntz
Hamilton says that Japanese consumers have traditionally been good customers, and when they see the commitment and dedication of Nebraska producers--and are able to put a human face with the product--they will increase their purchases.
"Trust and respect are very important in the Japanese culture and this promotion gave us the opportunity to have positive interaction with the consumer to promote our high quality product," he says.
Because of Nebraska's U.S. rank in beef production, producers have a keen interest in increasing beef exports, according to Hamilton. The state ranks second nationally in cattle harvest, processing more than 7 million head per year, and produces about one of every five steaks and hamburgers in the United States. It also is the number one state in commercial red meat production, producing nearly 3.27 million metric tons of red meat last year.