KyCorn farmer leader Ray Allan Mackey, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Dave Maples visited Japan earlier this month through the US Meat Export Federation’s annual Heartland Tour.
The goal of the tour was to allow U.S. beef, pork, corn and soybean producers to meet with Japanese buyers, explore market opportunities and see U.S. beef and pork promotions in action. Along with touring retail food stores and meat packing facilities, the Heartland Team met with major Japanese food importers and distributors. Kentucky was the only state attending that had its state agriculture commissioner in attendance.
“There are 130 million people in Japan, and more than 10 percent of those people live in Tokyo,” said Mackey. “Japan has to buy food daily to meet their needs, and since they typically spend 25 percent of their income on food, they have the economic ability to purchase American products. We need to get our products on the shelf.”
Unfortunately, Mackey learned that the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has put US products at a price disadvantage, and the European Union was quick to make their own deals. Quality of US beef and pork, he said however, cannot compare.
“We have the ability to continue to produce high-quality meat, and we want to continue to be a consistent, reliable supplier of that high-quality meat. We have a year and a half to finalize new trade agreements with Japan, which would ensure our competitiveness with other countries,” continued Mackey.
The US Meat Export Federation sponsors a number of tasting, preparation, and promotion events throughout Japan. Mackey said they watched a beef cutting demonstration where more than 100 chefs, cooks, and service industry employees learned to break down a beef
loin. They also enjoyed a pork promotion event, where the mascot “Gochipo” encouraged consumers to eat more “sumptuous pork raised on high quality grain from fertile American soils.”
Learn more about the USMEF Heartland Tour.