“Japan is a perfect example of how efforts to promote U.S. pork pay off over time,” says Becca Hendricks, assistant vice president of international marketing for National Pork Board's pork checkoff. The Asian nation has contributed significantly to total U.S. pork exports, which reached more than 4.02 billion pounds through October 2011.
“In Japan, high-profile chefs are affiliated with hotels,” says Hendricks. “When these chefs position U.S. pork as a premium product, this helps generate more demand from consumers.”
“Japanese consumers’ comments were very refreshing, because there usually is a clear preference for domestic products,” says Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF-Japan’s senior marketing director for USMEF. “Reaching these consumers – and having a major importer and distributor hear those comments – is beneficial.”
Japanese consumers are even more interested in U.S. pork as the nation recovers from the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit in March, and left half a million people without adequate food and shelter. “Japanese consumers are concerned about the safety of their domestic food supply, and they appreciate the support of U.S. pork producers,” Hendricks says.
To provide pork products and get the food distributed to those in need, the National Pork Board allocated $100,000 from the pork checkoff to support USMEF’s Japan Relief and Recovery Effort. State pork associations from Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Minnesota also contributed.
“I am proud that U.S. pork producers and importers stepped forward and provided seed money for this critical initiative,” says Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, Ind, who chairs the USMEF. “We are grateful that others have joined us to offer their support for the people of Japan, who have been great friends of U.S. agriculture.”