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Seminar, Tasting Session Showcase U.S. Pork in Tokyo

Published: Apr 27, 2012
USMEF conducted an American Pork Trade Seminar and Tasting Session last week at Tokyo’s Hotel Okura. An overflow crowd of 220 meat industry executives attended the seminar, which was conducted through support from the Pork Checkoff, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng provided opening remarks, expressing appreciation to Japanese importers, traders and other industry partners. Seng noted that because of well-established relationships in the Japanese industry, U.S. pork has been the leading supplier of pork to Japan for seven consecutive years and has captured a dominant share of the imported chilled pork market. Geoffrey Wiggin, Agriculture Minister-Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Japan, also shared welcoming remarks with attendees.

The first featured lecture was a U.S. pork outlook provided by Dr. James Mintert of Purdue University. He explained that the U.S. pork industry relies on exports to enhance profitability. The Japanese market is particularly important, as it provides exceptional returns for U.S. producers. He projected U.S. pork production in 2012 to grow 1 percent to 2 percent over the previous year, with prices remaining relatively solid due to strong demand in overseas markets.

Becca Hendricks, assistant vice president of international marketing for the National Pork Board, provided a lecture entitled, “America’s Pork.” She discussed the advantages and attributes of the U.S. pork industry, including an integrated production system, a strong pork quality assurance (PQA+) program, disease prevention and management measures and reliable feedgrain supplies.

Tazuko Hijikata, USMEF-Tokyo senior manager of consumer affairs, outlined USMEF’s consumer public relations activities and consumer research insights. Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF senior marketing director, followed with a discussion of U.S. pork demand trends and current USMEF promotional activities.

Following these lectures, USMEF held a tasting session where it introduced branded U.S. pork products in cooperation with 10 local distributors. Hotel Okura chefs prepared roast pork dishes using U.S. boneless and bone-in pork loin, CT butt and pork belly, drawing very favorable responses from seminar attendees.

U.S. pork exports to Japan reached new heights in 2011, totaling 493,313 metric tons (1.09 billion pounds) valued at $1.96 billion. Through the first two months of 2012, exports are 8 percent ahead of that record pace in volume (80,316 metric tons or 177 million pounds) and 22 percent higher in value ($342 million).