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Pork Treasure Hunt in Japan

Published: Aug 02, 2012
The more you find, the more you can win. That’s the incentive of a new marketing promotion for U.S. pork in Japan USMEF is conducting with more than 1,800 retailers through its American Branded Pork Campaign.

More than 400 domestic pork brands dot the complex and highly competitive retail landscape in Japan where U.S. pork has typically been viewed more as a commodity product despite being the No. 1 imported pork. USMEF’s American Branded Pork Campaign is geared to change that perception and encourage Japanese consumers to discover and purchase one or more of the U.S. pork brands in stores and restaurants with the hope of winning free prizes of U.S. pork.

Funding for the American Branded Pork Campaign is being provided through the Soybean Checkoff, Pork Checkoff and Kentucky Corn Growers Association and Promotion Council.

“We want to increase consumers’ awareness of U.S. branded pork, which will lead to increased sales at the retail level.” said Takemichi Yamashoji, senior marketing director for USMEF-Japan.

Retailers are buying into the concept. As the promotion kicks off, more than 1,800 store and restaurant outlets have signed on including Ito Yokado and Seiyu-Walmart. To generate additional awareness, USMEF is promoting the campaign through online ads on popular cooking websites (Kyono Ryori and Cook Pad) and in strategically placed train and newspaper ads.

Participating consumers are looking for one or more of the U.S. pork brands, which include Genmai Pork, Yongen-Pork, U.S. Black Pork, Kenko Pork, Tomorokoshi Pork, Silky Pork, Sukoyaka Sangen Pork, Mugishiage Sangen Pork and Select Pork. Utilizing Facebook, Twitter and the USMEF-Japan website, consumers will identify where they found the U.S. pork. The more brands they find, the more they can win – up to one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of U.S. pork.

“The Japanese diet has evolved over the years as it has changed from starch to proteins, increasingly embracing high-quality beef and pork,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “Japanese consumers are willing to pay for quality, and branded products that carry a story have intrinsic value that helps sustain customer loyalty even in times of price fluctuation. Expanding branded products in highly developed markets like Japan is an important element of our growth strategy.”

Japan is the No. 1 value market for U.S. pork exports and the No. 2 volume market. Through May, the U.S. has exported 199,061 metric tons (438.8 million pounds) of pork valued at $869.1 million to Japan. The volume of those exports is down slightly (5 percent) from the same period of 2011, but value is up 10 percent.