Pete Ricketts
Gov. Pete Ricketts signed an agreement with trade officials in Japan to increase shipments from Smithfield's Crete plant.
TOKYO – The second day of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ trade mission in Japan was highlighted by the signing of an agreement to increase shipments of pork products from Smithfield Foods’ Crete, Nebraska, plant to a prominent foodservice chain in that country. Officials from Sagami Chain Co. Ltd. and representatives from Smithfield Foods International Group signed the letter of intent on Sept. 13.

 “Japan is Nebraska’s largest export market for pork products,” said Gov. Ricketts. “Having a high-end restaurant chain such as Sagami and a well-respected pork processor such as Smithfield recommit to their business relationship is a positive sign for Nebraska’s pork producers.”

The agreement followed a 2016 plant tour of the Crete processing plant by Sagami’s CEO, Toshiyuki Kamada. Sagami is known for its fried pork cutlets at more than 170 restaurants throughout Japan.

 “Last year’s visit from Mr. Kamada was important because it gave him the opportunity to see first-hand that Nebraska can produce high-quality pork that his restaurants require,” said Mat Habrock, who is the Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture’s assistant director that was part of the delegation representing the Cornhusker State. “Nebraska’s pig industry is expanding rapidly.  Getting the stamp of approval from restaurant chains such as Sagami will go a long way in assisting us in increasing pork exports.”

The delegation also included a representative of the National Pork Producers Council, Trent Loos.

“Nebraska pork is a perfect fit for customers in Japan not only because of the quality aspects of the pork but our production standards from animal and land stewardship meet the expectations of the Japanese consumer,” said Loos. “It is refreshing to see Sagami take a pragmatic approach to trade, and do what is best for their customers,” he said.