Nebraska beef, soy, corn groups visit Japan

U.S. Meat Export Federation Updated: July 13th, 2011

Delegations representing Nebraska’s beef, soybean and corn industries got an in-depth look recently at beef and pork industry programs in Japan conducted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), as well as the opportunity to participate in USMEF’s Japan Relief and Recovery Effort to help victims of the March earthquake and tsunami.

A meeting with a group of Japanese food industry bloggers was an eye-opener for Bill Luckey of Nebraska Soybean Board, who with his wife and four sons grows soybeans and corn, custom-feeds pigs and operates a cow-calf operation in Columbus, Neb.

“I really enjoyed the meeting with the bloggers,” said Luckey, who also serves on the board of the National Pork Producers Council. “It’s a great opportunity to put a face on our industry. We have families and we consume the same products we ship to international customers. When the bloggers meet with U.S. producers they hear that we care about our customers, the environment and producing a safe product.”

Luckey noted that each of the bloggers has 500 to 1,000 or more people following them. “When you speak with 30 or 40 bloggers about the quality and safety of U.S. beef and pork, you’re quickly reaching up to 30,000 or 40,000 readers,” he said.

Nebraska’s beef industry was represented in Japan by Bill Rhea of Arlington, Neb., the Nebraska Beef Council’s treasurer and a member of USMEF’s executive committee. He was struck by the growth opportunity for U.S. beef in Japan.

“The potential for U.S. beef is enormous,” Rhea said. “We just need to figure out how to get enough product there. We talked with management at Matsuya (Japan’s third-largest gyudon restaurant chain with more than 800 beef and rice bowl outlets), and they said that sales just jumped off the charts when they switched recently to using U.S. beef exclusively.”

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