TOKYO — While trade negotiations may be a big question mark, members of a U.S. Meat Export Federation delegation did not let that stop them from promoting U.S. beef and pork in Japan.
Four members of the delegation traveled to Tokyo and Sendai to meet with Japanese meat interests, from the importers, distributors and processors to food service operators, retailers and Japanese consumers.
They talked trade, demand and cuts, and shared thoughts from the first leg of their trip during a late-night-in-Tokyo, early-morning-in-the-U.S. phone call.
“People here like meat. We always think that’s a good place to start. But they also have different tastes. As we looked at, touring the retail establishments, grocery stores here, quite honestly, not a whole lot of bacon on the store shelves, but there’s a tremendous amount of thin-sliced loin in the meat case. All that tells you is tastes are different in different countries, and that’s OK. We are here to meet whatever folks’ demands are, and we will keep going from that standpoint.”
“There was an announcement a week ago, week and a half ago, from President Trump and the prime minister of Japan, of an agreement in principle in regards to a Japan ag agreement. There’s a lot of enthusiasm with the trade, with the customers in Japan about that. We are operating at a disadvantage at the moment with the 12% duty disadvantage versus some of our key competitors like Australia, Canada and Mexico and also we are at a disadvantage on the pork side, with ground pork having about a 7% duty disadvantage, as well as processed meats at a disadvantage. We are happy to say the trade here in Japan is very enthusiastic about the prospect about getting on a level playing field sooner rather than later.”
“We had 325 people on our tour tonight, on our seminar tonight. We met with buyers who really move the needle for us in terms of beef being exported into Japan. It was fantastic to meet with those folks, show them what we do and show them how we do it, let them experience what we do on our farms and ranches at home. Utilizing those checkoff dollars, it was a great way to let those buyers experience what we do. I think we’ll see good results from that moving down the road, when we get back on a level playing field with tariffs, I think we can still really move the needle here.”
“We know that livestock is the No. 1 consumer of corn and corn is committed to partnering with our livestock friends in exporting red meat. It’s good to see the excitement here among the buyers, the retailers. We’ve had opportunities to visit with buyers and even had a personal experience where the packer that purchases a lot of our beef has a representative here and was able to visit with them. They, too, are excited about the pending trade agreement and the expansion of sales of red meat which that can produce. It is an exciting time over here for red meat exports.”