July 28, 2006


USMEF plans to build Japanese confidence in US beef



The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which promotes US meats in foreign markets, has a long-range plan to build confidence in US beef among Japanese consumers and distribution channels, said Lynn Heinze, a public relations official for the USMEF.


The first order of business for the group will be to continue working to build confidence in US beef through the distribution infrastructure, Heinze said. USMEF officials have identified importers, distributors, restaurants and retailers, he said.


The USMEF wants to build confidence in the safety of the US product and the ability to deliver what was ordered within trade agreement guidelines, Heinze said.


In addition, the USMEF has identified 17 new beef cuts that can be added to the traditional 12 cuts and used in various Japanese recipes, Heinze said. The USMEF plans to work with importers and distributors to show how these cuts can be used and promoted to consumers, resulting in a larger portion of the carcass that can be sold in the Japanese market, he said.


As the programme moves forward in the distribution chain, the USMEF plans to launch a "we care" campaign among consumers to enhance the message among Japanese consumers, he said. The message will be the extraordinary lengths US companies go to in selecting the types of cattle available to be exported to Japan and that they are using the best science to keep the beef safe from disease.


Regaining the Japanese market will take time, Heinze said. The USMEF estimates it will take three to four years for the US to regain the markets it had before the product was banned on Dec 23, 2003 when bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, was confirmed in the US, he said.


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