The American Pork Sweepstakes is just one of many summertime events in Japan this month, which the U.S. Meat Export Federation named American Meat Month.

The sweepstakes encourages consumers to try U.S. pork and offers opportunities to win prizes based on the number of U.S. pork packages they purchased. “The U.S. industry has made great strides in producing pork to meet expectations of Japanese customers, and these efforts are paying off in terms of increased market share,” USMEF Japan Director Greg Hanes says.

Through the first four months of this year, Japan is the No. 1 market for U.S. pork and pork variety meat with a volume of more than 272 million pounds (123,400 metric tons) valued at $384 million.

“American Meat Month offers the perfect opportunity to enhance the image of U.S. pork and showcase it as a nutritious, tasty, fresh and safe product that deserves a place in everyday meals in Japan,” Hanes says.

USMEF kicked off the campaign July 4 at 14 retail chains including all four top national retailers, Aeon, Daiei, Ito Yokado and Uny, comprising more than 1,700 stores. Several more chains are expected to join the campaign, which runs through Aug. 27.

USMEF has created new recipe cards from its “Everyday Delicious” U.S. pork cookbook, posters and point-of-sale materials to support the campaign. U.S. pork cooking demonstrations and tasting samples will also be conducted at the stores.

“By providing promotional incentives, samples, cooking demos and recipe ideas, Japanese consumers are more inclined to make regular purchases of U.S. pork and incorporate it into meal planning for its taste, versatility, nutrition and freshness,” said Hanes.

Additionally, several local television stations will feature short spots introducing American pork recipes being prepared by well-known chefs and cooking instructors. They will provide details of the USMEF sweepstakes campaign and identify the stores consumers can visit to purchase U.S. pork.

Chef cooking demonstrations and samples of U.S. pork will be available at several Seiyu stores, another top retailer in Japan. The demonstrations and recipes will be featured in Saita, a popular women’s magazine.

At the end of July through early August, Daiei and Maruetsu retailers also plan to conduct special cooking classes for customers in the Kanto region. These events highlight the versatility of U.S. pork by demonstrating many ways to prepare a variety of dishes with U.S. pork. Participants will be able to prepare the dishes and taste them.

“This type of hands-on cooking experience helps familiarize consumers with U.S. pork so they are more comfortable in purchasing it,” Hanes says. “Having a cooking instructor on hand to answer questions, provide ideas and demonstrate techniques helps dispel fears consumers have with buying meat and cooking it successfully.”

Other USMEF activities during American Meat Month include a media conference with pork and beef producers along with U.S. athletes now involved in the U.S. meat industry, special U.S. pork and beef meals on sale at baseball games in Japan with sales going to local children charities, trade seminars for pork buyers identifying new products, trends and impacts of ethanol and advertising support in newspapers, magazines and commuter trains to build on the “Delicious Everyday” theme for U.S. pork.

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation