Grass-fed Beef Promotion in Japan

JAPAN - Meat and Wool New Zealand has mounted a major New Zealand grass-fed beef promotion during December in the island chain of Okinawa, the southern-most prefecture in Japan.
calendar icon 22 December 2008
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New Zealand Ambassador to Japan Ian Kennedy hands out samples of New Zealand beef to shoppers in Okinawa.

"This month's grass-fed beef promotion is the largest campaign undertaken in a localised area of Japan in recent years," said Meat and Wool New Zealand's Market Manager – Japan, John Hundleby.

"It is also unique in comprising the three strands of retail, food service and direct consumer interaction."

The promotion was launched at a reception attended by the New Zealand Ambassador to Japan, Ian Kennedy, and about 150 local trade and media representatives.

“Ambassador Kennedy spoke about the long-established ties between the meat trades of New Zealand and Japan and the importance of the Okinawa market to the New Zealand industry,” says Mr Hundleby.

For well over 30 years New Zealand grass-fed beef has enjoyed its strongest support in the Okinawa region, which has a population of approximately 1.4 million. For a number of years, New Zealand enjoyed a 70 per cent-plus share of the Okinawan imported beef market.

At the reception Mr Tessei Uechi, President of San-A, the largest individual supermarket customer in Japan for New Zealand chilled grass-fed beef, was presented with a Meat & Wool New Zealand certificate of appreciation and a gift from the New Zealand Government.

For three days in early December in-store demonstrators at San-A’s 10 largest outlets gave customers samples of New Zealand grass-fed beef. On one of the days, Ambassador Kennedy visited a San-A supermarket in Naha, the largest city in Okinawa, and spent almost an hour giving samples to the store’s customers.

In addition to San-A, 26 outlets from three restaurant chains – Wafutei, the Captain’s Inn group and Steakhouse 88 – are participating in the promotion.

Consumers visiting participating outlets during the promotion are asked to complete a simple questionnaire to enter a draw for a range of prizes, including a return trip to New Zealand for two people.

Samples of grass-fed beef cube roll, cooked barbecue style, were also given to runners and spectators at the site of the Naha marathon, reportedly Japan's largest citizens’ marathon. Mr Hundleby estimates that about 2,500 people tried New Zealand grass-fed beef during the day.

"To date the overwhelming response of those sampling New Zealand grass-fed beef has been that it was very tender," said Mr Hundleby.

"The next most common response was that it was most delicious.

"Overall, the reaction from both the trade and consumers in Okinawa has been very positive, with the promotion also attracting the interest of both the local Okinawa media and the national trade media."

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