Ag News

US lamb exports expanding in Japan

IARN — Japanese consumers are seeking more high-quality meat options due to the slowing of foodservice operations from COVID-19 restrictions. Near the top of the list is lamb cuts from the US.

According to Tom Kasatani – US Meat Export Federation’s senior marketing manager in Japan – US lamb is available at high-end Japanese retail establishments, but consumers are also seeking the product to prepare at home.

“Export of American lamb to Japan reopened in 2018,” Kasatani said. “There was absence for 15 years due to the PSE issue. The first target was foodservice, especially the high-end like a hotel banquet or the French cuisine restaurant. Those were our main targets to introduce the US lamb. Since COVID, almost all the foodservice and hotel restaurant industry had sold out, quite seriously. At the same time, some of the high-end retailers started to make interest in American lamb.”

Kasatani says boneless round cuts are the best-selling U.S. lamb items at retail, as these cuts are often marinated, sliced and grilled. Some retailers are also featuring Frenched rack of lamb as a special occasion item.

“They have decided to order American lamb consistently in 2021,” Kasatani said. “The majority of the sales was made by round cuts. We have a culture to thin slice the shoulder and round cuts, marinate with barbecue sauce, and then grill it. It seems like the retailers will keep on purchasing the boneless round cuts and a few Frenched rack, especially for a feast or event.”

USMEF recently conducted the first US lamb retail promotion in Japan at 11 high-end retail outlets, with demonstrators explaining how US lamb is produced and highlighting its uniquely rich flavor and texture. Sales during the promotion prompted these outlets to offer US lamb on a regular basis is 2021.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network

Photo courtesy of USMEF

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