Leadership from the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) recently traveled to Taiwan and Japan as part of a U.S. contingent exploring opportunities for U.S. beef in those countries.
“Taiwan and Japan are in prime position for further market development,” said CBB chairman Chuck Coffey, a fifth-generation rancher from Davis, Okla. “While these Asian markets share many similarities, their challenges and opportunities are actually quite different. Taking this trip gave us the chance to immerse ourselves in their culture and gain a better understanding of the many ways we can work to increase U.S. beef consumption in these countries."
The beef leadership team’s first stop was Taipei, Taiwan, where they attended a market briefing with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a subcontractor to the beef checkoff. At that briefing, attendees learned various facts about the Taiwanese market, including the fact that current beef consumption per person in the country of 23.6 million is quite “small” compared with pork or poultry.
The leadership team wrapped up its time in Taiwan by visiting gourmet meat shops, restaurants, warehouse stores, convenience stores, indoor/outdoor markets and steakhouses to see what kinds of beef are being sold to consumers through those channels.
Upon conclusion of the first leg of the trip, the team traveled to Tokyo, Japan. There, Coffey, CBB vice chairman Jared Brackett and others from the group, were first briefed at the local USMEF office, where they learned numerous facts about the country’s meat consumption.
The leadership team also attended an eye-opening consumer event in Japan where the USMEF staff worked with local celebrity chef Rika Yukimasa on an American Beef Master program. This program included an American beef cutting demonstration and integration of certain beef cuts into different dishes, including roast beef salad and roast beef sushi rolls. Yukimasa is one of several cooking instructors USMEF works with who have a loyal social media following and will promote beef to more than 3,000 cooking students over the next year.
The rest of the team’s time in Japan included visiting the U.S. Embassy to learn more about the current market status of U.S. agricultural products in Japan as well as visiting retail stores to view U.S. beef products on display and learn how they’re marketed to Japanese consumers.
A trip to the Tokyo Meat Market, a government-owned beef and pork slaughter plant, revealed the plant’s high daily capacity for processing beef cattle and hogs. Another highlight was a food retailer beef promotion event with a focus on new U.S. beef menu options and ways to promote U.S. beef. Here, U.S. beef producers also shared their farming and cattle-raising practices with the group.
“We also attended a consumer direct event at a rooftop grilling park,” Brackett, a fifth-generation cow/calf stocker from Filer, Ida., added. “At this event, the USMEF and a local grilling club are elevating grilling as not just a hobby but a way to incorporate thicker cuts of beef into the Japanese diet. We learned that they are making an impact, as in just one year’s time, the amount of grocery store space dedicated to thicker cuts has exponentially increased.”
Coffey, Brackett and the rest of the leadership team on the Asian trip said they found their visits to Taiwan and Japan extremely worthwhile as a way to help them gain valuable in-person insight into what makes these markets tick. The trip also revealed concerns about tariff and non-tariff trade barriers as well as the need for improved product traceability.
“The market strategies we use to continue promoting U.S. beef in these two countries will likely be very different,” Coffey said. “Taiwan is 15 years behind Japan in overall market development, which requires beef promoters to spend more time with importers and other businesses. In Japan, there’s more emphasis on consumer and influencer marketing. We’re taking what we learned on this trip back to the U.S. and disseminating it to the producers we serve as well as others in the beef industry. Armed with this knowledge, we can better tailor our approach to selling U.S. beef in these Asian markets and set ourselves up for even greater success in the years ahead.”