To promote the use of U.S. pork in Japanese dishes, USMEF recently participated in several media opportunities designed to educate Japanese consumers about the U.S. pork industry. Funding support was provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Nebraska Soybean Board.
One very effective event – a U.S. pork “Washoku Seminar” and blogger lunch – took place during the USMEF Heartland Team trade mission and was held at Tsukiji Jisaku, a historic Japanese restaurant in Tokyo.
As members of the Heartland Team learned, traditional Japanese food is collectively known as washoku. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registered washoku on its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. This style of cooking has since gained greater popularity in modern-day Japan and in a number of other countries.
At the USMEF seminar, Japanese participants praised the taste and tenderness of U.S. pork, while food bloggers made positive comments on websites and social media.
“Some of the comments noted that this was a surprisingly good combination of new and old — American pork used in Japanese dishes,” said Satoshi Kato, USMEF-Japan marketing director.
Danchu, one of Tokyo’s most popular cooking magazines with a circulation of 125,000, also covered the event, explaining the attributes of U.S. pork and the responses of those attending the washoku seminar in its Nov. 6 edition.
Another USMEF event that recently earned positive media attention was a family barbecue event at Mt. Fuji Lake, located about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo. The barbacue promoted U.S. pork as an ideal food for outdoor events. USMEF hosted families at Saiko Camp Village, serving them tenderloin, belly and back rib, while explaining the benefits of U.S. pork. USMEF representatives also provided cooking demonstrations and meal ideas.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, which has a national circulation of 9,560,000, covered the event with a feature article.
As a follow-up to the Heartland Team’s visit, Japan’s version of Vogue magazine published a feature on “the great advantages and appeal of U.S. pork.” The article included interviews with Anne Meis and Teri Ann Zimmerman of the Nebraska Soybean Board. The two detailed farm life back home and the care taken to produce U.S. livestock and grain.
“Delivering our own brand of the best quality farm products is something that gives meaning to our lives,” Meis, a livestock and grain producer, told the magazine. “My job is to care for the animals first thing in the morning. My favorite time of the day is when I leave the house and walk down to the pastures to give them their food.”
Meanwhile, Japan’s version of GQ magazine also featured an article on members of the Heartland team. The article, which began, “The heart of the U.S. pork industry lies with the passion of its producers who work painstakingly to produce their product, as well as with cutting-edge technologies,” focused on Zimmerman and Nebraska grain and livestock producer Rebecca Kreikemeier.
U.S. pork “grew up on the nutritious soybean and corn in the U.S. corn belt,” the article noted.