The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently launched a marketing campaign with Becker’s, a casual, café-style restaurant chain operated by JR East Food Business, a subsidiary of the East Japan Railway Company. With locations inside many high-traffic stations, Becker’s attracts thousands of commuting consumers. In fact, about 2.65 million commuters per day pass through the 24 railway stations in which Becker’s restaurants are located.
Becker’s has traditionally taken a very conservative approach to marketing its menu selections, but chose to collaborate with USMEF for a large-scale promotion of a new menu featuring sandwiches made with U.S. pork trimmings. The promotional campaign, which runs Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, prominently features the U.S. Pork logo and is supported by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP). Becker’s is also promoting the sandwich menu on its website and with consumer magazine coupons. During the three-month promotional period, Becker’s estimates approximately 7 metric tons (nearly 15,500 pounds) of U.S. pork trimmings will be used.
“For Becker’s, this is the first time it has featured U.S. pork on its menu,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF-Japan’s senior marketing director. “We are very pleased to be partnering with Becker’s on this promotion, as the campaign is reaching a tremendous number of consumers and providing outstanding exposure for U.S. pork.”
Foodservice promotion is just one of the marketing tools that helped push U.S. pork exports to Japan to new heights in 2011. Through November, exports (including both muscle cuts and variety meat) had already set a new value record of $1.79 billion, on a near-record volume of 451,509 metric tons (995.4 million pounds). When December results are available, pork exports to Japan will have achieved a new volume record and the export value will approach the $2 billion mark.