CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Two popular Japanese shabu-shabu restaurants are finding success this fall by featuring US beef for their hot-pot promotions. Operated by Sato Restaurant Systems, diners at the prominent family-style restaurant chain annually consume more than 1.1 million lbs. of US beef, according to the US Meat Export Federation.

This month it started the American Beef Sato-shabu Premium Fair at its 196 outlets. During this single promotion, the chain expects to sell more than 100,000 meals using US chuck eye roll.

"Sato Restaurant Systems is actively promoting US beef, putting the 'We Care' logo on its TV commercials as well as menu books, posters and point-of-purchase materials," said Takemichi Yamashoji, senior marketing director for USMEF-Japan, which contracts to manage foreign marketing programs for the beef checkoff. USMEF is leveraging beef checkoff investments and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) to help support the promotion.

Although hot-pot (shabu-shabu) is a popular winter menu choice at Japanese homes as well as family-style restaurants, family restaurant chains have begun featuring hot-pot menus throughout the year as consumer demand has increased.

"As other foodservice companies are seeing the success of Sato Restaurant Systems (which doubled its usage of US beef in 2009), we are receiving more inquiries on conducting hot-pot promotions all year round," Yamashoji said.

Wonder Table, another major Japanese foodservice company that operates several restaurant chains, decided to shift from Australian beef to US beef after participating in a USMEF trade team that visited the US in May. Nabezo, a shabu-shabu and hot-pot restaurant chain operated by Wonder Table, is now conducting an "American Beef Fair" at its 35 outlets. The chain expects to sell more than 66,000 lbs. of US beef during the promotion.