U.S. pork lauded by Japanese bloggers

by Bryan Salvage
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TOKYO – More than 30 high-profile Japanese bloggers participated in a recent U.S. Meat Export Federation (U.S.M.E.F.) pork cooking seminar, which has generated very positive reviews and more than 250,000 online media impressions for U.S. pork in the No. 1 value market for U.S. pork exports. Held earlier this month in Tokyo, the event was conducted by famous author and blogger Junko Ooi, who writes the Yome chan blog for an estimated 70,000 consumers every day.

Invited by U.S.M.E.F.-Tokyo to conduct the session, her reputation attracted an overflow crowd to the seminar that was broadcast on giant television screens so all participants could see her pork preparation techniques.

Only “power bloggers,” whose postings on a variety of consumer products and recipes are viewed by a minimum of 5,000 consumers daily, were invited.

“Of course, the safety of food we consume is most important for us,” wrote blogger Keiple Sylup after the event. “American pork goes through many inspections in the U.S. before shipping. Only the products which pass the inspections could be shipped to Japan. That’s why we can enjoy safe American pork free of any concern.”

Bloggers were provided samples of several U.S. pork recipes to try, including back ribs, which were introduced to the Japanese market last year by U.S.M.E.F.

In the blog Diary of a Healthy Working Girl, the author wrote about her conversation at the event with Danita Rodibaugh, U.S.M.E.F. vice-chair and Rensselaer, Ind. pork producer. “‘What is your favorite pork dish?’ I asked one of the producers, and she said ‘Tonkatsu!’ But Tonkatsu in the U.S. is a little different than in Japan. She said she coats pork with flour, egg and crushed sugar corn flakes, then bakes it in an oven. The sugar corn flakes make the Tonkatsu extra crispy. Sounds yummy. I would love to try it!”

Four U.S. pork producers who were on hand along with Chris Novak, National Pork Board chief executive officer, made an impression on the participants. For example, blogger Kuroobi for Karate focused on the nutritional benefits of U.S. pork that she heard in the seminar “Initiatives like this bloggers program have proven invaluable for us in markets like Japan,” said Phil Seng, U.S.M.E.F. president and c.e.o. “The relationships our in-country team have developed with key bloggers help us get positive information to thousands of consumers with a single article. We reached more than a quarter of a million potential purchasers of U.S. pork with this single event.”

The event was supported with funding from the U.S.D.A. Market Access Program (M.A.P.) and the Pork Checkoff.

In 2009, the U.S. exported 929 million lbs. of pork to Japan valued at more than $1.5 billion, which represented nearly 23% of all U.S. pork exports by volume and nearly 36% by value.

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