DENVER – Philip Seng, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO, has just returned from a visit to the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan, the area hardest hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in early March. Seng helped serve meals featuring US pork to displaced families attempting to recover from the disaster.

Meal distribution, however, is only one aspect of a Japan relief and recovery effort organized by USMEF and its partners in the US beef and pork industries. National and state beef and pork organizations, processors, exporters and numerous individuals have contributed about $600,000 toward this effort to date.

Seng lived in Japan for many years as USMEF’s director of Asian operations. His recent trip to the Tohoku region and upcoming activities related to the relief and recovery effort are being noticed by the Japanese.

Seng said the long-term commitment shown by the US meat industry is very much appreciated in Japan.

“The thing that impresses them the most is that we have distributed close to 100,000 meals; our goal is to get to 160,000 meals so we’re going to continue to do this,” Seng said. “But the fact that we’re taking these dollars and we’re working in all these different areas and we’re doing it on a sustained basis shows that we’re not just doing it once but we’re going back. We’re also working on a recovery phase, which is one of the most important things you can do in an issue like this – try to get people back to work, get the economy and businesses going again. That employs people, people come into restaurants ... that’s very much welcomed and appreciated by the Japanese.”